The Present Journey over a Future Destination
Updated: Mar 19
"It’s all about the journey, not the outcome.” - Carl Lewis, 9-time Gold Medalist American Track and Field Olympian
We hear it constantly from the greats who've walked the earth. It doesn't matter which walk of life they come from or their achievements. When asked how to achieve a lofty goal and become successful, they will all unanimously say something across the lines of 'journey over outcome'.
It's as if they take the Virtue Ethics philosophical approach to life.
It's not about where you got to, but rather, how you got there.
What virtues did you accumulate on your journey, and how did you grow as an individual?
Did you work day and night to cultivate your craft? Or did you sit on the couch all day telling yourself "I'll start tomorrow and will still be able to achieve my goal?"
Did you consistently finish all your tasks regarding that craft like a checklist, or did you start one task only never to finish it and then start another, telling yourself "It'll blend in together in the end?"
Or rather, did you patiently work with yourself and learn from your mistakes as time went on, taking small steps farther on the journey, or did you get short-tempered and decide on quitting each time you made a mistake, telling yourself "I'll never get there?"
All latter scenarios presented were solely focused on the goal, focused on the future, and what we do not have in our control.
A wise character from a children's movie once said "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”
All we have is now. Ever heard that statement before? You probably have. It's a deeper one than we think. The only thing we truly have in our control is what we do now, in this current moment.
If we ever want to achieve a goal and alter the future to our liking, what we do now could dictate the future to our favor.
Here's another statement you've probably heard before. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." It's a famous quote attributed to both Chinese Philosophers Lao Tzu and Confucious.
Think of the future goal you aspire to achieve. That's the thousand-mile journey. How do you achieve a thousand-mile journey, you may ask? Well, you have to start somewhere, so take that first step, and you'll be taking that journey.
Have you achieved the thousand-mile journey yet? No, but you're on that journey in the present moment because you took that first step.
Now, take a second step, and then a third step, and so on.
At some point, you will get tired. Your feet will hurt, and you'll probably get some bruises along the way.
Having a journey-oriented mindset means that despite the bruises, you're in it for the sake of the journey. You're in it to see how you can achieve it, not if you can achieve it.
Many people start off this thousand-mile journey full of bright faces, but the moment they get a bruise, they yell at their foot for giving them pain, and turn back with a saddened face, forgetting they were a few steps closer to the thousand miles than they were when they first started.
If you're on a journey right now and are on the verge of giving up, this is your sign to stay on that path. This is your sign to focus on how to better walk that journey instead of lamenting whether or not you'll even get there in the first place.
If you've done all you can when that time comes, you will achieve that goal as a by-product of how present you were when you took each step on the journey.
It's the journey that really matters right now. Focus on that, and your future could mold itself in your favor.