Last Updated on June 27, 2023
You’ve likely heard the saying, “The journey is more important than the destination.” It’s an adage that still rings true today.
Often, we spend all our time thinking about reaching the next milestone that we miss the time in between. We forget to recognize and appreciate the small moments that lead to the larger gains. Why is the journey more important than the destination? Let’s take some time to explore this together.
Achievements and Transformations
Media is filled with stories of people transforming their bodies, climbing mountains, achieving significant athletic feats, and more. While the achievements themselves are impressive, the journey matters. It’s the narrative that is truly noteworthy.
There is always a story behind each of these milestones that describes how a person overcame adversity to reach success. It’s in those moments that the greatest lessons were learned; lessons full of blood, sweat, and tears that drove them to attain their dreams.
Goals Don’t Come with Directions
Goals are good to set because they can provide a structure and frame of reference. They can help keep you on track as you work towards things that matter to you most. While there are many successful people who have achieved great things without setting goals, it’s nice to have an idea of where you want to go and what you hope to accomplish.
When you do set goals, it’s wise to make them “SMART” – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound. The more specific you can get, the better off you are going to be with achieving them.
While the structure can be helpful, it is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to set goals. Goals don’t come with directions. They can be fluid and evolving as your needs and desires shift. It is important to stay open in the process and not get too stuck in the details. This will help focus your attention on the moments of growth versus the end goal.
Focusing on the Journey is a Mindset Change
Many of us set goals with good intentions but often go from one goal to the next without stopping to appreciate what comes in between. Focusing on the journey, rather than the goal, requires a total shift of your mindset.
How do you change your mindset? This can be a difficult transition if you are not accustomed to thinking this way. However, it is not impossible. Building in moments of reflection can help. As you reach small milestones in working towards your goal, it can be beneficial to pause, tune into how you feel, and practice gratitude for how far you’ve come.
You must be intentional about taking a step back and giving yourself the time, space, and grace to reflect on the events that led you to this point in time. Furthermore, you can build five minutes into your day, for example, to stop, breathe, and contemplate your achievements.
In those moments of reflection, it may be helpful to take notes. Write down your thoughts and feelings. Some questions to ask yourself might include:
- What did you learn?
- Where did you struggle?
- How did you overcome any barriers that presented themselves to you?
Documenting the process can be powerful. Writing things down in a notebook also allows you to look back and assess how far you’ve come. The more you practice this, the easier it will be to operate this way.
The Journey Builds Character
As you work towards your goals, you are likely to encounter obstacles that you must fight to overcome. You will also face setbacks which can be discouraging.
It’s in these moments, however, that you build critical skills and acquire the wisdom needed to keep moving forward. These trials and tribulations – no matter how small they may seem – build character. Challenging moments help you grow more resilient over time and shape who you are as a person.
The journey is a continual process that we experience, building inner growth and character. Yes, it’s sometimes painful, but without those tough times we won’t find success.
Focus on the Small Steps
Focusing on the small steps can help you stay motivated. As you work towards your goals, you are going to achieve many small milestones. These minuscule achievements matter.
Sometimes, focusing on the small steps can help make your final goal seem more attainable. It is important to capture the learnings and the joy these smaller moments bring as you work towards what’s to come.
As you think about the small milestones, it can be helpful to practice gratitude. Gratitude is an emotion that involves feeling thankful and appreciative for people, places, things, or specific moments in time. Practicing gratitude might mean saying things like, “I appreciate my body’s ability to complete that difficult workout. It wasn’t easy, but my body is strong and capable.” You can recite these statements out loud or write them down.
When you practice gratitude, you can better appreciate the small steps that pave the way for long and lasting change.
Many Goals are about Lasting Personal Change
Let’s say you set a goal around weight loss. After many months and countless hours of effort, you finally achieve your target weight. It’s only natural to want to celebrate the success achieved.
But how many of us focus on the outcome and not on the changes that were made during the journey that led to that outcome? Chances are many of us do this.
The things you did to lose weight such as improving your eating habits, drinking more water, and incorporating more physical activity into your day are the things that create lasting personal change, including developing some lasting healthy habits and routines.
Most goals, if you break them down, require us to shift or improve our behaviors to attain the desired outcome. It’s those shifts in behavior – and not necessarily the outcome – that bring about personal growth and sustainable results.
Tips to Help you Focus on the Journey
You know by now that focusing on the journey, not the destination, can be a powerful way to live. However, it does require a shift in your thinking to become best practice. Here are some tips to help you stay focused in a journey mindset as you move through each experience in pursuit of your goals.
Specific and Small Steps
Big goals require you to stand back and focus on the specific and small steps needed to get from one point to another.
In thinking about your goals, can you assess all the little steps that are required of you to achieve your desired results? It may be helpful to jot them down. Breaking them down, naming them, and getting specific can help you stay focused and make the process more joyful.
Make it Part of Your Daily Routine
If you want to be intentional about focusing on the journey and not the destination, it helps to make it a part of your daily routine. Each day, take a moment to assess your current situation. Here are some questions you may ask yourself:
- Where are you in reference to your stated goal?
- What have you learned?
- How have you grown?
Time is often of the essence. Please know that you do not have to carve much time out of your day to do this. However, if you can dedicate just a few minutes each day to assess and reflect on your journey thus far, it can help build your appreciation and strengthen your motivation to keep going.
Reflect, Learn, Regroup for the Next Day/Week/Month
The reality is you are going to face setbacks and you are going to fail. It’s important, however, that you always remember to fail forward.
Failure is a strong word that can evoke some serious emotions. However, failure is not a bad thing. There is always a lesson to learn and wisdom to gain from your struggles.
You must take the time to reflect, learn from your mistakes, and regroup. You may have to reassess your goals along the way (and that is okay). Perhaps there are other strategies you can employ or another path you wish to take.
Constantly checking in and reassessing where you are compared to where you want to be in the next day, week, or month can help you stay on track and stay motivated to achieve meaningful goals.
Celebrate the Small Wins Along the Way
As you work towards your goals, it is important to give yourself grace. Though you may not have reached your destination yet, you have come a long way!
Do not hesitate to celebrate all the small wins throughout your journey. It’s critical to acknowledge the distance you’ve traveled, the knowledge you’ve gained, and the skills you’ve developed. Acknowledging and celebrating the small wins will motivate you to keep striving.
Final Thoughts: Why is the Journey More Important Than the Destination?
Our lives are busy. We often move quickly from one task or one goal to the next without pausing to reflect on the journey itself. If you take a step back, you’ll notice that your goal is simply a by-product of your journey.
The small successes help you acquire and develop new skills, connect with others, and morph as an individual. While there is certainly something to be said about achieving the final outcome, your journey is far greater than your final milestone.