The Journey to Reaching Your Goals
In early August the highways across America start to grumble as hundreds of thousands of bikers take a journey, snaking their way to Sturgis, South Dakota, home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally. From what I hear, it’s a party with enough rev to shake the Black Hills, a leather-studded event well worth the trek. But I guess if you’re a real rider, the trek alone is worth the trek.
I’ve always admired that old Harley slogan: “It’s not the destination. It’s the journey.”
I often remind myself of that when I’m laser-focused on finishing a particular project. Sometimes you can get so caught up in reaching a goal that it’s easy to lose your perspective.
Tal Ben-Shahar wrote a book called “Happier” in which he refers to this as the arrival fallacy. It’s the belief that, as soon as you lose those 10 lbs., you’ll be happy. Or, if you could just get that promotion, all of your problems will go away. Of course, the fallacy is that often you’re not, and they don’t.
One way to avoid the anticlimax is to view each goal, like the Harley riders, as a journey. You don’t just want to get there; you want to relish the ride. A few reminders along the way:
Make frequent pit stops.
Break down your goal into milestones, then celebrate after you reach each one. If you’re training for your first triathlon, reward yourself each time you complete a section of your training plan. You ran 3 miles straight without taking a break? Treat yourself to a smoothie, or go see that movie you’d wanted to see.
Soak up the scenery.
Be wary of the urge to put your life on hold while working toward a goal. Let’s say, for example, you decide to go back to school and you’ve got two years of hard work ahead before you finish. In that same period of time, your son could grow 5 inches taller! Make sure you’re observing (and appreciating) the now.
Don’t always go solo.
You often see riders in packs, and with good reason. When you’re on a long journey, it helps to know you’re not on it alone. Look for opportunities to network with others who share your goal, learn from their experience, and share yours.
Another author, Gretchen Rubin, says in “The Happiness Project” that working toward a goal can often feel more fulfilling than actually reaching it. By the time you’ve hit that point, you’re already expecting to get there. The novelty has passed.
So the next time you find yourself fixated on a project, just listen to the rumblings of the Road Kings. Take it easy, look around, and enjoy the ride
“Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out the window.”
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/ddpavumba