The Path of Learning to Love the Journey

You’ve heard the phrase, “it’s about the journey, not the destination”. I want to take that one step further and say, “it’s not just about the journey, it’s about learning to love the journey and not resist it”.

Too many times in our lives, we set ourselves up for disappointment because we focus solely on the place we want to get. Even when we’re travelling, we focus more on how long we have to get there, rather than what we’re seeing in between. If we can fall in love with that in between, just as much as we do the actual destination, life can be so much more fun. We can see so much more, experience so much more, and be more present in our lives in general.  

What does it mean to love the journey?

Imagine this: You’re going on a road trip, driving to somewhere that you’ve always wanted to go. On the way there you do nothing but ask, “when will we be there”? You watch the minutes tick away on the clock and the miles counting down on the GPS. When you finally arrive at your destination, you’re excited, but you couldn’t name one thing that you saw, or that happened along the way because you were solely focused on getting there.

Now, tweak that just a little: You’re going on a road trip, driving somewhere that you’ve always wanted to go. On the way, you are looking at things around you. You’re reading the different cities that you pass, admiring the scenery, maybe stopping at a few places to see things. You still get to your destination, and you’re excited to be there, but you’ve seen so many interesting things in between as well.  

The second scenario is an example of loving the journey, not just the destination. The drive was PART of the trip and not just something that you had to endure to get there.

For life in general, this can look like learning to enjoy the practice that you have to do to learn to play an instrument, a sport, or to develop a new skill. It could be enjoying the actual process of learning and growing a business, rather than just focusing on how much money you want to make.

Basically, it’s enjoying the process of becoming rather than just the idea of being.  

Why learning to love the journey helps us?

When we fall in love with the process of doing, of becoming, it makes those times when things aren’t going quite right, or those slow times a lot more pleasurable. We aren’t constantly stuck wishing we were somewhere else, doing something else, we’re enjoying what we’re doing now.

This is not to say that every single moment will be enjoyable, and that nothing will come along to knock us a bit off course, but overall, we’re honoring each moment that we’re currently in.

This not only helps us to stay more present and actually experience more of our lives, it also helps us to feel more content with our lives as a whole.

How many times have you had a bunch of different things on your mind and you’ve been at the grocery store and forgotten something you went in for, because you weren’t fully focused on what you’re doing? Or been in a hurry because you’re running late, you’re thinking about where you’re going, and you end up forgetting your lunch, your wallet, or something else you need?

If you’re more present in each moment, and not just thinking about your end goal, there’s a greater likelihood that things like this won’t happen. You also have a greater ability to see possible problems before they arise, rather than having them trip you up later. So, it can save us time and effort in the long run.

Why do we try to rush through the journey, and how can we learn to embrace it?

We get stuck in the “I’ll be happy when” cycle.

If we’re only focusing on our end goal, we often think that we can’t fully be happy until we achieve that goal. With this mindset, we start to see the things around us as mundane, not good enough, and a problem.

Instead, try looking at all of the good things that you already have. Keep a journal of these good things so that you can refer back to it on rough days. Put up post it notes where you’ll see them regularly that say things like, “I appreciate where I am now, while I’m working for what I want”. OR “I love my life now. What can I do to make it even better”?

We look at how far we have to go, rather than seeing how far we’ve come.

Especially when we’re learning a new skill, or building something like a new business, we tend to look at everything we have to do to get to where we want to be. Along the way, we get so bogged down with that to do list that we forget to look back at everything we’ve already accomplished.    

Take the time to celebrate your wins, no matter how big or small. In fact, celebrating the smaller wins along the way can give you more confidence, and help you feel more prepared, so that the bigger wins are a little easier.

We see ourselves as victims of our circumstances, rather than seeing life as a teacher.

Sometimes, life throws us a curveball. When this happens, we can see it as one of two things: either as something that is happening TO us or something that is happening FOR us. The more we can see that the universe is working for us and not against us, the better off we’ll be in the long run.

For this, try a perspective change. Anytime you find yourself saying things like, “why are things so hard”, “why can’t things be easier for me”, switch it up a little. Like this:

Instead of: “Why are things SO HARD?” or “Why can’t things be EASIER?”

Try saying: “Why ARE things so hard?” or “Why CAN’T things be easier?”

Change the emphasis and it can change your perspective on life. Question why you think things are so hard for you, why you perceive life in that way. And not from the mindset of a victim, but from the mindset of someone who is fully capable of solving problems and making their life better.

Yes…hard things happen for all of us, but not everything is always hard. Sometimes we choose to see it that way because it fits the story we’re telling ourselves. It fits our view of how the world is. The view that we often don’t want to do the work to change.

We allow ourselves to get hung up in the comparison trap.

Jay Shetty said this in one of his podcasts, “Comparisons are often based on partial or biased information”.

We look at the social media version of someone, and think that they never have any bad days or problems. Or we look at someone who has been doing something much longer than we have and we expect to be at their same level, even though we just started. What we don’t see is the horrible fight that someone had with their spouse just after they posted that lovely picture, or the illness that they may be dealing with silently. We don’t see the years of hard work and learning that went into someone having a successful business, or being able to play the violin so beautifully, we just see the end result.

If we constantly compare ourselves to these partial views of other people’s lives, we will consistently find ourselves becoming more and more unhappy with our own. We’ll look at what we’re doing and think that it’s not good enough because it doesn’t measure up to what they did, or how they did it.

I’m sure you’ve heard this, but I think it bears repeating…the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it’s always greener where you water it. You can learn from others, but be careful not to allow yourself to slide into comparing yourself or what you’re doing with others.

Everyone is on their own journey. They may look similar, and our journeys may intertwine from time to time, but we each have our own unique path to walk.

We create limitations and think that we can’t do things, but we can.

How many times have you doubted yourself, or told yourself that you’re not good enough? The story that I told myself for the longest time was that I didn’t have anything worth listening to. This created a big block for me. It kept me from not only starting this website, but also from putting my ideas out there in any way. I created this limitation for myself by allowing myself to believe that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, or interesting enough.

You may be telling yourself a similar story. If you are, try paying more attention to when and where you have these thoughts. Is it all the time, or only around certain people? Can you pinpoint something that you may need to learn to improve your skills or are you feeling like you aren’t even smart enough to do that? Write some of these thoughts down in a journal and see if you can spot a pattern.

From there, work on shifting your habitual thoughts. If you catch yourself saying something like, “I’m not smart enough to do that” – Stop. Acknowledge that you had that thought, and then purposefully shift it to something like, “I don’t know how to do that YET, but I can learn”, or “I am capable of anything that I put my mind to”.

This will take a little practice, but it will help you break away from those patterns that keep tripping you up.

We resist our own dreams (whether consciously or subconsciously).

This sounds silly. Why would we resist what we’re dreaming of getting? But we do it all the time without realizing it. We resist our dreams by telling ourselves that we aren’t smart enough, pretty enough, or the right age to accomplish them (we’re too young, or too old). We have ourselves convinced that we don’t deserve what we really want, so we block ourselves from getting it at every turn. We self-sabotage. 

“What would happen if we respected the flow of life and used our free will to participate in what’s unfolding, instead of fighting it?” from The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer

(I highly recommend this book. It’s all about releasing this resistance we create within ourselves, that then shows up in our outer world.)

One other thing that helps me to love the journey more is to give myself reminders to do so.

Too often, we focus so much on where we want to go, that we forget to appreciate the process of getting there. We put our head down and we start plowing towards our goals and don’t look up until we’ve arrived.

To help us take breaks on the path, we can put little reminders here and there – either in the form of notes on our mirror/desk/car dash/etc., reminders on our cell phones, or even an object or a certain animal or number – that remind us to stop and appreciate where we are and how far we’ve come. If we can learn to enjoy all of the little moments that make up the larger picture, our time spent working towards our dream will be that much more fulfilling. And in turn, the main event, that end goal that we have in mind, will be that much sweeter because we will have paid more attention to what all went into making it happen.