What If the Journey Toward Your Goal Matters More Than You Think?

What If the Journey Toward Your Goal Matters More Than You Think?

What happens when our focus moves so wholeheartedly to the final goal that we lose touch with the micro-moments that make up our journey toward it? It means that our micro-moments stop mattering to us. They become an annoyance instead of the part of our life through which nudges and guidance can come. Isn’t that wild to realize?

I was burning the candle at both ends last week, trying to finish fourteen chapter summaries for the new book I’m writing. Did it feel good to be in the writing flow? Heck yeah!

That is until the flow dwindled and the frustration set in! This is when the candle burning REALLY started.

Did I stop writing? Nope. Did I give myself a break about feeling confused about what direction to take some of the chapters? Nah. In fact, my inner bully became notably present, repeatedly chastising me for my confusion and taunting, “You can’t do this!”.

In those moments, did I consciously notice my inner bully’s words? Strangely, no. That’s the odd thing about our inner bullies, isn’t it? They’ve lived with us for so long that we don’t even notice them talking to us a lot of the time. Does this mean their words don’t pack a punch? Ummm, no! It means that we start feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or even angry and we don’t quite know why.

And that’s exactly what happened! The longer I pushed myself to move through the confusion in search of clarity, the more uncomfortable I felt in my body. My stomach hurt, a headache developed, my shoulders and neck ached.

And this whole time, I felt convinced this was because I was working hard toward my goal and it was the price I had to pay.

Well, guess what? It doesn’t have to be this way.

Here’s the thing I notice. In our culture, reaching the goal is far more important than the process we have on the way there.  In fact, most of the time, we want to hurry up and get out of that process altogether, right?

Well, that’s what I was doing last week as I slogged my way through my confusion in the latter hours of my book writing stint. I was annoyed by the moment I was in. I wanted to feel the joy of moving closer to my final destination of completed chapter summaries.

Do you notice what happened when my goal became more important than the process I was in? Suddenly how I was feeling didn’t count. In fact, any of my discomforts were simply annoyances.  I didn’t matter.

In truth, this is what happens for all of us when we unintentionally fall into the cultural norm of pushing to reach for our goals at any cost.

This is certainly a way of life that contributed to my chronic illness in my 20’s. I was sick as hell, yet continued to push myself to finish my master’s degree in social work at any cost. And through it all, I believed my body and its symptoms were betraying me rather than calling me back home.

So here’s the thing I’ve been pondering this week: what if it turns out the process we’re in on the way to the goal is also valuable? What if it matters more than we think? Sometimes it may even hold more value than the goal itself.

Think of all the little goals we have in our lives every day. Completing the dishes or laundry. Cooking and serving dinner. Moving through the weeks leading up to a vacation. Getting to bed at night. Grocery shopping. Walking the dog. Putting the kids to bed at night…

And then we have our bigger goals, right? Vacation, publishing a book, graduating from school, being promoted, securing a new job, buying a car or a house…

But what happens when our focus moves so wholeheartedly to the final goal that we lose touch with the micro-moments that make up our journey toward it? It means that our micro-moments stop mattering to us. They become an annoyance instead of the part of our life through which nudges and guidance can come. Isn’t that wild to realize?

After burning the candle at both ends for many days last week, relentlessly pressing toward my goal, I finally pressed pause. For a little bit, I tried to convince myself that I felt unwell and insanely stressed because I was working hard on my book. But when I came up for air, I simply knew it wasn’t true.

My body wasn’t hurting because I’d been a writing warrior. It was hurting because I’d forgotten how valuable the micro-moments are that make up the journey toward the goal. I’d forgotten that my exhaustion, my headache, my shoulder pain, my frustrating confusion were all nudges from my inner compass, calling me back home to the process and moment I was in. I’d missed the truth that the clarity I was searching for was quietly perched in the micro-moments, not in the ultimate goal. And pausing to be present in the micro-moments led me back to relief, clarity, and peace.

As I’ve pondered my writing goals this week, I’ve realized that I WANT my journey to count. I don’t want the journey to be hell on the way to publishing my book! I want to enjoy this process. I want to savor the flow of writing when it’s here. I want to have FUN as I write this fabulous book of mine! And I want to TRUST the micro-moments and their nudges that are genuinely guiding me to a happier, more satisfying process of writing that’s filled with clarity.

So what are the goals in your life that are taking up space? How are you experiencing the journey toward your goals? Do you even notice the journey and the process? I certainly know how easily I forget to notice it!

We have SO many micro-moments in our journey towards the goal. I would venture to say that our life is comprised of far more times of journeying than goal-reaching. So maybe it’s time to turn toward the journey, become curious about the gifts tucked into it, and consider how we WANT to feel as we’re on it.

When you find yourself slogging through your process on the way to your goal, annoyed by the symptoms showing up in your body (pain, exhaustion, clenched jaw, anxiety, depression, stress), consider this: What if it turns out these symptoms are RIGHT? What if they are simply nudges from your inner compass offering you guidance, suggesting a pause in this micro-moment? What if the pause changes your very experience of the journey you’re in as you make your way toward your goal? ❤️

P.S. If you’ve been enjoying my weekly blogs and are itching for more daily inspiration, friend me on Facebook (Emily Colwell) or follow me on Instagram (dr.emily_colwell).  I post frequently and humor leaks into most of my posts!

Warmly,

Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND

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