We’re all on a journey. Professionally and personally, we’re each navigating an endless path of ups and downs. The highs are high, and the lows are low, and occasionally some days exist quietly between the two. From leading our businesses and organizations to trying to make the grade as a spouse or parent, we’re all in the middle of our journey, and in the midst of this lies a hidden danger.
“As soon as I’m…”
I’ve spent much of my life playing the “As soon as I’m…” game. Once I achieve this, I’ll have made it. I’ll be happy once I get this. Once I accomplish this, I’ll have arrived. But what happens to all that time along the way working to get there? We’re not happy until the end of the journey?
Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of energy focused on the outcomes, convinced the eventual achievement would be what made me happy. What I’ve come to realize is that the happiness I get from the achievement only lasts so long. It’s the journey that I really love, even the challenging parts. The key to happiness is being able to find contentment along the way, in both the peaks and the valleys. That’s the beginning of stopping the “As soon as I’m…” game.
Contentment is simple to find in the peaks, when things are going well. Leading a business has forced me to get intimate with my valleys. The ups are easy to enjoy, but embracing the downs can be much more challenging. Things don’t always go as planned. Results don’t always meet expectations. Some days are a long, tough run with snow pelting you in the face on a bitter cold day.
How can I be content when things aren’t working?
Contentment comes from understanding that the valleys are part of the journey just like the peaks. There is no such thing as a smooth path, and anything worth having is worth working for. When we have a vision we believe in, and we keep our focus on that vision, then we have what we need to enjoy the journey today and push forward. We keep showing up. This means not only showing up when things are good but digging even deeper to show up when things are tough. Our teams and organizations need this from us. So do our families and friends.
Professionally and personally, learning to love ALL of the journey is the key to contentment. Let me get real… I know this is hard. There’s no switch to flip that just turns this on. Loving the struggles initially feels very counter-intuitive. Some days the challenges really suck, but seeing them through the lens of the full journey is something I’ve had to personally develop over time. I know that the challenges are where I see my biggest growth. As I’ve developed that mindset, I’ve been able to find contentment where I am right now (peak or valley) rather than pinning it on “Once this happens, I’ll be happy.”
Stop and consider how you’ve been playing the “As soon as I’m…” game. Make the choice today to be content in the journey and to embrace the whole process (even the valleys) rather than tying all your happiness to the outcome only.