When the Journey Becomes the Destination

Written by on September 29, 2016 in Breaking Barriers

when-the-journey-becomes-the-destination

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When was the last time you saw a goal all the way through to successful completion?

Some would say it depends on the definition of the goal. For example, if your goal is to read Catcher in the Rye that’s a simple journey from point A to B so if you finish reading the book, then you completed your goal.

On the other hand, let’s say your goal is to publish your first book. Sounds simple enough, but most writers find out soon enough it’s a much longer and more challenging journey than they realized when they started out, and for many, their efforts will begin and end with the journey.

WHEN THE JOURNEY BECOMES THE DESTINATION

Today I’m going to challenge you to rethink the popular notion that the quality of the “journey” is more important than the destination.

In fact, I’m going to live dangerously and suggest that you may actually be setting yourself up for failure if you’re using this as your standard for pursuing goals.

If you don’t finish what you start, your success rate will always be zero. Suman Rai

Just to be clear, I’m not knocking the value of “the journey” because when fully embraced we can grow and learn so many things in the process of striving to achieve something.

The problem is that somewhere along the line we seem to have lost sight of two factors. First that a goal needs a deadline, and second the fact that the journey and the destination are not mutually exclusive.

The journey can actually become a deterrent to our growth when we make it the main focus and relegate the destination to the coming attractions that we may or may not ever get around to.

THE JOURNEY AS A SAFETY NET

Often the problem is the goal. We set vague goals with no clear finish line, or we set bigger goals than we can reasonably achieve and then procrastinate out of fear and uncertainty. And sometimes, life just gets in the way.

But here’s something you may have never considered, sometimes we don’t want the journey to end. There is a certain comfort to be found in striving to achieve something. As long as you’re on this journey you have the benefits of a purpose and a destination, you can talk about your journey and enjoy the support of others cheering you along, all without the discomfort of having to challenge yourself to do the work to finish what you started.

I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged. I had poems which were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out. ~Erica Jong

Many people set a goal because it looks interesting or because they believe they should, only to get stalled in the middle or give up entirely because the initial charm has disappeared or because it starts getting tougher to make progress.

And so, new “fresh” goals are set and we enthusiastically head out on yet another journey. Sounds a lot like typical New Year’s Resolutions, doesn’t it?

The bottom line …

The Zen of the journey argument may be a great pacifier for our egos, but wandering through life with a collection of eternal journeys without ever reaching a destination deprives you of the satisfaction and euphoria that comes with crossing the finish line.

Each goal you complete, each finish line that you cross, is more than a checkmark on a task list. They literally become milestones in your life.

Your turn: Are you on a journey now? What personal bearer will you break, what goal will you accomplish, between now and the end of 2016?

Related:
Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.

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  1. ikechi
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Marquita

    I do agree that the destination matters as much as the Journey. I never did occur to me that people would cling to their journey to feel safe but reading this post, I see it is so true

    For me, I never start a project which I don’t intend to end. Thank you so much for this post, Take Care
    ikechi recently posted…4 Crazy Things You don’t Know When You Waste Your LifeMy Profile

  2. Marquita, I have a really good enticement to get an agent for my mystery: a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino with a label on it: Open when RoseMary gets an agent.
    I can barely stand the wait!

    I had to, as usual, ponder this post before adding a comment. I love the journey and I love the destination. Once I figured out back in the day that multi-tasking had both good and bad sides to it, and what the word “procrastination” was all about, I started to get more serious about getting projects done.

    It’s still easy for my attention to get diverted. So much to do, so little time! But being aware of my personality trends sure helps keep me focused on getting IT doen.
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…At Frick Park Enjoy Sedate Strolls or Hard HikesMy Profile

    • Well first of all, I’ll be keeping my fingers and toes crossed that things work out just the way you want them to for your book RoseMary. As far as the post, you’ve sai it beautifully my friend, life is all about give and take and understanding our own needs. 🙂

  3. Mandy Allen says:

    Gosh, I don’t know that I have a destination for 2016 – maybe I have failed already!! I am a great starter of things, and not so good at finishing some, but on the whole I do believe that I gain more from the process than the final finishing of anything. Actually, I do have goals, and I do achieve things, and I do finish things, but not all things for sure.

    Enjoy the journey!

    • Sometimes when I read a comment I feel compelled to go back and reread the article because it seems somewhere along the line I must have gone from English to Urdu. Anyway, if you don’t have a direction or overarching goal for where you want to be by the end of this year, I’m not at all surprised to learn that you are a starter and not a finisher. But if that works for you Mandy, then that’s all that really matters. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Joyce Hansen
    Twitter:
    says:

    I can laugh because I have 3-ring binders neatly organized with journeys I’ve been on and never completed. I’m being far more serious this year to reach several destinations.

  5. Hi Marquita,
    I think I know what you mean in this post. when someone sets a goal and gets lost on the way with the excuse to enjoy the journey . I think this may be to overcome a barrier and get out of a comfort zone . I saw many starting with a goal and letting go in the middle because they are not desperate to finish. Life happens anyways ,way go for something which makes feeling unpleasant. If I understood you right it is what Bob Proctor calls the terror barrier and it is not easy to get over it I had this too ,but done ones next time it is easier. I know many get stuck and let go of the goal. In a situation like this having a coach or mentor and good support would help to overcome it. Without support, it needs a lot of faith 🙂
    Thank you for a thought provoking article
    Erika
    Erika Mohssen-Beyk recently posted…How To Use Your Creative Mental Faculties – Magic In Your MindMy Profile

  6. Michael
    Twitter:
    says:

    Nice post, Marquita! Well said. A goal is a dream with a deadline. We must cheerfully pursue our goals. We may struggle on our way to the destination. That requires adjusting our sails and learning to navigate to the destination. A struggle must not make our change our goal / destination.

    –Michael
    Michael recently posted…Stretch A Dime Turns One!My Profile

  7. Donna Merrill
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Marquita,

    What a wonderful and important article.

    When I coach people, they are often very… very resistant to moving forward. They’re much happier staying inside of the process that they’ve created for themselves. It becomes their destination, their purpose, their comfort… and really, their main, go-to form of procrastination.

    I think you’ve hit the problem square on: it starts with the fact that goals are so murky and ill-defined that people don’t really understand what their destination is. So they just stay in the process, hoping it will lead them “somewhere.”

    I’m thinking of making this article required reading for my clients.

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted…35 Best Types Of Blog Posts To Get Free Traffic | Neil PatelMy Profile

    • Beautifully said Donna! I worked as a life and small business coach for a little over ten years and my experience mirrored yours. It’s so frustrating when you see people with so much potential and the ability to make their dreams come true stalled and unwilling to move forward. So glad you found the article worthwhile!

  8. We are each individual with individual weaknesses and strengths, so I found the post surprising! 🙂

    I never set goals intentionally to just enjoy the journey with no intentions to not actually achieving the goal. I guess that’s my personality. I don’t start a project if I know I can’t finish it.

    Nor do I attempt projects where I’m not psyched to complete it. My nature would not let me have unfinished projects sitting around. I would go crazy, lol!

    I think the biggest take-away for me in your very interesting and insightful post is that the danger lies in making the journey the focus. I never lose sight of the goal, but make sure I have my eyes wide open all along the journey for opportunities to learn, grow, or change perspective.

    This may even include tweaking the goal from its original context. I leave room for improvement or to readjust my course.

    Thank you for giving me a new perspective, Marquita! Very enjoyable!

    Deborah
    Deborah A. Ten Brink recently posted…Storytelling Can Create Compelling Blog Posts.My Profile

    • Hit a hot button for you, huh Deborah? Seriously, if this concept truly comes as an epiphany then the article obviously isn’t for you. After all, there is no such audience as “everybody.” Still, if it weren’t an issue there wouldn’t be a billion-plus dollar self-help industry so it’s not a bad thing to learn about what others are going through. The truth is, there is not a practicing coach out there that doesn’t have at least a few clients stuck in the “journey” so it is my hope that for them, this will serve as a gentle wake-up call.

  9. Hi Marquita 🙂

    What an awesome post! I am on a journey to realize my FULL potential, not just in my online business, but my life as a whole 🙂
    Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful insights! Great share!!
    Joan M Harrington recently posted…7 Steps You Need To Know To Improving Your Conversion RatesMy Profile

    • So glad you found value in the article Joan! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and knowing you, there is no question in my mind you will achieve whatever you set your sights on! 🙂

  10. Mary Sloane
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks so much for this timely article Marquita!
    It made me realize that I sabotage myself by setting goals I “know” I’ll never achieve and then go about my merry way, not even trying to achieve them.

    WOW! I really hadn’t realized that!

    That changes everything.

    Now I’ll set really easy goals so that I focus on achievement and see if we can’t start gaining some traction.

    To great success

    Mary
    Mary Sloane recently posted…Feel Like Your Dollar/Your Currency is Not Going as Far as it Once Did?My Profile

  11. Jennifer
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hello Marquita,
    Yes I think the journey is very hard a lot of the time especially if we are trying to do something new. But it will eventually be easier with practise and when we achieve the goal we set out for it is amazing! I find that if it seems hard I know it’s because it’s worth it and just have to keep swimming until I’ve got it down 🙂 xxx

    • You’ve made a good point about doing things for the first time Jennifer. That can definitely throw our timing off, but we learn and adjust our course and continue on. I can certainly relate to this since 2016 has been a whole year of “firsts” for me – what a ride!

  12. Suzie Cheel
    Twitter:
    says:

    Your words in the image sum up where I have been these past few months and what am i going to complete my book Lucky To Be alive this will be a big finishing for me . As I have started I am beginning to see other projects either being ditched or completed – looking great xxx
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…How to Meditate and Listen To Your Heart WhisperMy Profile

  13. Summer
    Twitter:
    says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Sometimes it is sooo easy for us to get lost on our journey! We forget where we were going in the first place. I enjoyed your thoughts on goal making also. Making very specific goals with a deadline will help us to continue on our journey without getting lost so that we can make it to the destination. After all, we went on the journey so we could get to the destination not so we could walk around aimlessly looking in from the outside.

  14. Julie Gorges
    Twitter:
    says:

    Enjoyed your article – good point that the journey and the destination are not mutually exclusive. Never thought of it quite that way.

    In my case, I have found that if I really want something bad enough, I’ll see it through to the end. Sometimes I forget to enjoy the journey – as a writer it can be very frustrating just writing for the end result (publication). You have to enjoy the process or you’ll eventually give up.

    On the other hand, I totally get what you were saying about being so into the journey you forget about the original goal you set for yourself. It may be procrastination or – and I was guilty of this when I started out – because of a fear of failure like Erica Jong’s quote.

    Love the idea that goals can become milestones in our lives. Thought-provoking stuff!
    Julie Gorges recently posted…Five Ways Living Frugally Can Make You HappierMy Profile

    • So glad you enjoyed the article Julie, and I completely understand your point about being a writer. Interesting notion about “enjoying” the writing process. Two years ago I researched over 100 best selling authors for a quotation book I published and there were two main messages I got from all the information and commentary I gathered. 1) Their consensus was that there is no such thing as “writer’s block” (for what it’s worth I agree) and 2) writing is as much if not more about self-discipline than creativity. One comment that really stuck with me was “You get up and you write every single day, whether or not you feel like it. You don’t sit around waiting for the right mood or the little blue flame of inspiration to strike. You just do the work.” Personally, I relate to that philosophy. Thanks again for stopping by and contributing to the conversation!

  15. Amethyst
    Twitter:
    says:

    I couldn’t agree more! I was someone “who didn’t finish things” for years, and started focusing on how it was all about the journey anyway. Eventually I figured out that was just an excuse and in the last couple of years have finally achieved many of my goals. And yes, I still had fun along the way, but nothing beats that feeling that you accomplished what you set out to do!
    Amethyst recently posted…How to Rock the Done4You GiveawayMy Profile

  16. Dave
    Twitter:
    says:

    I am the self-proclaimed expert at beginning new things. I could teach a course on it. Actually, I would probably start devising the course and then fall victim to the mentality in your article by allowing it to collect dust once I hit that boring middle ground between onset and completion.

    It’s so cliche, I know, but the balance between enjoying the “journey” and arriving at our “destination” is critical to me. Too much focus on one or the other and the value of both seem to be compromised.

    I have swung back and forth like a pendulum between both extremes. First, I was solely focused on getting something out there with no regards to the process involved. Get it done – now, quick, fast. I failed to enjoy the small challenges and discoveries along the way because I had my blinders on like a race horse, sprinting full speed towards the finish line.

    Then, I have been at the other extreme where I let the individual tasks that would allow me to reach my destination slip by the wayside in the name of enjoying the scenery, if you will. Sure, the “journey” was great, but I wasn’t going anywhere. It was like traveling on the beltway around D.C. – keep on driving in a circle, getting nowhere in particular.

    I am convinced that it takes a tremendous amount of courage and patience (two personality traits that can often butt heads) in order to achieve a balance between the journey and destination. And, it’s only when you see how much more enjoyable (and “successful”) that approach turns out to be that you ask yourself why you hadn’t taken this path all along 😉

    This was a very short, yet powerful reminder Marty to keep your eyes on the finish line while never forgetting to glance left and right every once in a while with our peripheral vision – enjoying the “journey” to the “destination” 🙂
    Dave recently posted…AbandonedMy Profile

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