We say it frequently, and I always thought I knew what it meant to “enjoy the process”. Recently I found a new grasp of the understanding of what it really means to enjoy the process.
The sayings “find what you like to do and you’ll never work a day in your life”, “Success is a journey, not a destination”, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans” all enjoy the process statements.
So what does it really mean to enjoy the process? It means the goal, task, problem, mission, job, whatever end you’re working towards is simply a guide. Simply something that directs your actions. In our business most people want to be fitter and healthier. That is their “goal”.
Usually it’s articulated with “lose 20lbs” or “do a pull up” or “squat 200lbs”, but really those are just metrics of being fitter and healthier and for most people pretty short term. Like they can be achieved in less than 90 days. Not a lot of process there. Not a lot of journey.
As I look back at some goals I have set for myself, the most successful ones have been the big ones. The ones that took years to achieve. Little steps closer each day for years. And while I’m happy when I achieve them, the real joy was in the journey. The process. And frequently when these big goals are achieved, the process loses its joy. It loses it’s meaning. It’s not the same.
I really like to lift weights, and someone once said “aren’t you strong enough?”, and I immediately answered “no”. Their follow up “how strong is strong enough?”. I had to think about that one, but I wrote it down. When I wrote it down, I never thought I’d actually achieve it. Why? I didn’t want to. I wanted it to be an endless process, a far off journey that I would always get closer to my destination but never reach. Well when I wrote it, it seemed that way. Here is what “strong enough” meant for me:
405lb back squat
300lb Overhead squat
205lb shoulder press
That to me at the time was “strong enough”. Just far enough to be out of reach for a long time, close enough to be “realistic”. Then it happened. I got there. I reached my destination. I was happy, but what I didn’t realize at the time was I lost my “journey”. I arrived. I didn’t know where to go next. I didn’t get a chance to thank that person for their simple questions that worked as my guide for many years, but once I got there, I had nowhere to go and no one asking me for more.
So I found myself lost. So lost in fact, I’m not “strong enough” today by those standards, but that journey doesn’t drive me the same way it did before. Why? Because I know the way. I know I can do it, and frankly this time it wouldn’t take me all that long to get there. I need a new journey. A new process. Something to guide me. Something big. Something off in the distance with a path I’ve never taken. I need someone to ask me where I’m going. Something I need to think about, clearly define, and then get to work on. Little step by little step, maybe forever, and that wouldn’t be so bad.