The Journey or the Destination?

Back in college, for one of my philosophy classes (in which I majored), I wrote a paper entitled something along the lines of “Happiness: Is it the Journey or the Destination?” The conclusion I arrived at in the paper (which I still have sitting in a box in my basement!) is that it is indeed within the journey where most of our sense of meaning and fulfillment resides, as opposed to the destination. Too bad that in the ensuing years, I too often forgot this vital message for myself.

Goals are important, and I have achieved my share. Yet, oftentimes I have found that if I focused too much on the end result, and not enough on the “ride,” the emotional rewards of goal completion can be quite pleasurable but fleeting, leaving me often asking myself “What’s next?” More important than that, even, was a sense of having wasted opportunities to be more engaged with and fulfilled by the process, as I doggedly pursued the end result.

This blog, and my book in fact, is meant as a vehicle to share what I have learned so that interested readers can hopefully enhance the quality of their lives. My point here is this:

Goals are wonderful ways to provide direction and structure to our lives, and lofty goals are desirable for those willing, able, and passionate enough to create ways to benefit humanity on a massive scale (think Facebook and Microsoft). But… and here’s the rub… the journey is meaningful to the extent that our goals reflect our deepest values in life.

I once heard an account of billionaire talk show host Oprah Winfrey stating that she never “did it for the money.” Warren Buffet, the world’s third richest person, has often admonished college students to find something to do that they love. In other words, it’s fine to be rich, even “filthy” rich, but make sure that it comes as a by-product of pursuing that which one is passionate about (i.e., in line with one’s values), and not pursued for its own sake.

Once a person knows what they deem truly important in any of their life – what sort person they want to be, what sort of parent they want to be, what sort of partner, what sort of co-worker, and so on, any action consistent with being “that sort of person” provides even the most mundane of activities with the potential to be more meaningful and fulfilling. Once we first recognize what we uniquely value, our goals are best created and implementing around such values, using them as our guide.

Having goals flow out of our authentic selves helps ensure that our ladder of success is leaning against the right wall, and that each rung of the ladder can be valued “in and of itself,” step by precious step.

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