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Learn to enjoy the journey

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Learn to enjoy the journey

Scott Miker

When I was younger, I naively felt that what mattered was the destination not the journey.  I thought sacrifice and discomfort were part of the journey and success and happiness were part of the destination.

Therefore, I worked hard but found myself miserable most of the time.  So as I started to go through my high school and college years I started to shift my perspective.

But just as anything that requires balance, I swung the pendulum too far.  I slowly started to abandon my work ethic.  I assumed enjoying the journey meant working less and having more fun and leisure. 

But this didn’t seem to make me any happier.   I still desired the success associated with working hard but wasn’t willing to do the necessary work. 

Luckily, after my college days I started to better understand the concept of enjoying the journey.  I started to strive for goals that meant a great deal to me and stopped being solely focused on the outcome. 

I started to focus more on the direction I was heading and if that direction was right for me.  Because of this shift I started to realize that if I wanted to succeed in any area it would take work and effort.

Most people’s view this work and effort in a negative light.  Therefore, it becomes difficult and about struggle.  Most people then look at doing this work simply to get past it and on to a better path once they finish this part of the journey.

But what often comes next is more challenge and adversity.  Overcome that and more challenge and adversity comes quickly in to replace it again. 

This cycle seems to leave people with the approach to simply do the minimum to get through it all.  They focus their enjoyment on other activities, not on the work.

But instead of viewing this challenge and adversity as something to be avoided, we can embrace it.  We can start to gain enjoyment from the work, rather than putting our enjoyment on hold while we work.

It isn’t about doing less work or finding ways to incorporate fun aspects into the work, although that might help.  It is to start to actually enjoy it.

Several times throughout my life I found myself enjoying work that I probably shouldn’t have.  When my brother started a business and I helped him get it started I often cleaned the bathrooms.

I remember at the time feeling like that should be an awful, disgusting job.  But I developed a routine and the work started to have a flow to it that I enjoyed.  Obviously I would rather have done many other tasks than clean the toilets but I started to just enjoy the work and gain satisfaction while I did the job instead of only feeling satisfaction after I completed the job. 

If we can start to change our perspective and find this flow through our work that actually provides enjoyment, we can work harder, work for longer, work better etc.  I have found this often in my work, taking on something I dislike but somehow start to enjoy doing over time. 

We can find ways to keep working while others quit and we can rely on hard work to help us keep moving in the right direction.  The journey and the work required to reach a goal can be enjoyable.  If we can figure out how to become content while we work we will be much more likely to reach a greater destination than if we are always slugging through the minimum amount of work we have to do.