Someday I’ll be rich. Someday I’ll finish school. Someday my kids will be able use the bathroom on their own. Someday I’ll be able to quit my job. Someday my blog will have a million readers. Someday.
I’ve always been told to write my goals down. That is what famous, rich people do with their dreams. The next step is to put your head down and work as hard as possible to attain your goal. Then, when you finally reach that goal- you write down a bigger one and start the process again.
I actually have goals. I write them down and obtain them frequently. However, one thing is missing from the traditional sense of progress. Something is missing when the end goal is all that matters. The notion of miserable sacrifice as a stepping stone to some lofty fictional finish line. Something else is important in life. Often, the process itself is just as valuable as the result. There are plenty of examples in real life where the ride is more fun or important than the journey’s end. In fact, we spend a lot more time in process than we ever will basking in the reflected glory of our final destination. I think it is time to step back, take a breath and enjoy the process of life.
When I was in middle school our class took a week long field trip to Pennsylvania. We went through Virginia and traveled to places like Monticello, Gettysburg and the Hershey Chocolate Museum. The trip was great and I’m sure I had a good time. But, ironically, I actually vividly remember the bus ride on the way there. I remember loading up with snacks, music and my gameboy. I can still remember the songs that were popular and the people I was with. I remember talking to my friends, playing games with girls, messing with people when they fell asleep, and the amazement of having a bathroom and tvs on a bus. I’ll remember the destination but I also enjoyed the process of getting there.
Earlier this year I was discussing with a friend the process of tailgating. I’m a big college football fan and I enjoy going to the games. I also enjoy hanging out with my friends before the game under a tent, playing cornhole, and eating delicious finger food. But what gets most people is the setup. Getting everything prepared, setting up, breaking down, and planning is challenging for some. I too admit at times I’ve complained about this very situation. But I’m learning to draw contentment from being up early on gameday. Enjoying the dew and the fresh cut grass. The peaceful quiet before the storm. I like having a relaxing cup of coffee at the tailgate before the madness begins. I’m working toward enjoying the process.
I also enjoy riding my bike. I ride it all around town and enjoy the feeling I get having the wind blowing all around. I don’t ride very often for ‘exercise’ and most of my riding is simply getting from place to place. At times I catch myself just wishing I was there. I need to step back and enjoy the ride. I should be happy that I can actually ride a bike. Be happy that I’m physically able. Be happy that I’ve got enough time margin to be relaxed. To be content with the fresh air and slow pace. I’m working toward enjoying the process.
I can’t wait until I’m 10. Then I’ll be able to play with the big boys. I can’t wait until I’m 16 and I can drive on my own. If only I was 18, I wouldn’t have to listen to my parents anymore. Man, if I was 21 all of this would be legal.
I can’t wait until she gets old enough to sleep through the night. I’m so ready to be done feeding and changing those dirty diapers. I’m ready for the day when they can stay at home by themselves. When she finally graduates college and gets married, then we’ll have our money and time back.
Family can be amazing and challenging at the same time. We love our families and the quirks they bring. But we often tend to think about how things will be better in the future. I’m sure my parents felt that way at times when we were growing up. The mythical challenges of today will be gone and life will be perfect. My request is that, instead of thinking about what will happen, enjoy what is happening. Enjoy the fun you are having sharing a bedroom with your brother. Enjoy the sleepless nights you get to spend with a newborn. Enjoy the madness of family holiday gatherings. Don’t waste your time thinking about how things will get better, enjoy the beauty and mess now.
Making the Millions
There is a persistent rumor that I hear often that sounds something like this: When I make more money, I’ll be happier. Again, we already know that making more money doesn’t make you much happier, so it is time to quit talking about making more money and enjoy what you have. Learn to live efficiently on what you currently make. Get rid of waste and stop complaining. You are always welcome to earn more money but don’t spend all of your time focusing on the wrong goal. The process of getting out of debt, building wealth, and giving to others can be enjoyable. You don’t have to wait until you have multiple millions to enjoy the process of financial independence. Embrace the small wins and strive for progress, contentment, and satisfaction all at the same time.
I know when people think about dating there is a notion that the thrill of the chase is what makes it exciting. We can learn from that in personal finance and start to appreciate the small actions it takes to make our financial world better. If we realize that small steps are enjoyable, then the process itself can be pleasurable and will set us up to win both immediately and after we reach our goal. It is easier to set the goal, but learning to love the process can make you happier now and when you reach your destination.
Enjoy The Process
As cliche as it sounds, there is really something to be said for enjoying the moment. Being present. Not looking ahead and worrying about the next challenge. Not playing on your phone while enjoyable moments happen around you. Enjoying the process prefers the steps we take moving toward our final destination. Enjoy those steps. Enjoy when you can still hold your little baby. Enjoy when you have the free time to study for a test. Enjoy the conflict that moves you closer to resolution. Enjoy when you are reading the books it takes to learn something new. Enjoy the long ride you have to talk to your friend. Enjoy life now instead of looking through the rose colored glasses of the future.
“Living in the Present. Savor everything you do, every experience. There is no moment that cannot be savored — even those routine moments, even those times when you’re having a conflict with someone else, even those times when you’re alone with nothing to do. Savoring is about learning to live presently, to fully enjoy the gift of each moment, to give that moment the space and attention it deserves. It takes practice, but it’s a delicious practice. – Leo Babauta“
Enjoy the Process.