The importance of setting and reaching goals is drilled into us almost from birth. From the minute we’re old enough to talk, we’re told how important it is to achieve, to reach the next milestone, and to do it quicker and better than everyone else.
We have those big, all-important goals, such as finishing school, graduating university, and finding the right job.
Then we have goals that we set for ourselves – whether that’s writing a novel, crocheting a blanket or getting in shape, we’re constantly working towards something that we believe will make us feel happier and more fulfilled.
All of these goals, whether big or small, fall under that big, all-encompassing question – who am I, and what do I want to do with my life?
Maybe you want to be an entrepreneur, an author or a world-renowned athlete. Perhaps you’re chasing a partner and a family. Our dreams and ambitions are an important part of who we are, and help us to stay motivated and driven.
However, as we chase our ambitions, it’s easy to get so caught up in a pursuit to reach the end result that we forget to stop and smell the roses along the way.
I firmly believe that if you don’t enjoy the process of working towards an achievement, then it’s time to change track.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that is placing an increasing amount of emphasis on speed and efficiency. With the constant push for quick turn-arounds and the pressure to advance in our careers as fast as possible, it can be difficult to take time to enjoy the journey rather than racing to get to the end goal.
According to the Corporate Finance Institute, short-term career goals generally take between six months to three years to achieve. On the other hand, more long-term goals can take three years, five years or even longer.
For instance, let’s say that you wanted to become a doctor. Training to be a GP takes ten years alone, and even more advanced positions, such as that of a surgeon, can mean fourteen years of education or more.
Whilst an end goal such as this is a great motivator, it can also be easy to develop tunnel vision, sacrificing the present in a relentless pursuit of the future.
With this in mind, here are five ways that you can enjoy your journey to success.
1. Celebrate the small wins
Maybe you aren’t able to run the London Marathon yet – but 10 kilometres is still pretty impressive. Celebrating our progress and smaller successes can make a goal seem less overwhelming, as well as boost dopamine by triggering the brain’s ‘reward’ system.
2. Learn to love learning
Training isn’t always the most exciting thing to do, but finding satisfaction in your studies is a great way to live in the present moment. Thinking of immediate applications for your newfound knowledge, and sharing it with others, are both good ways to make the most of your skills before you move onto greater things.
3. Stop comparing yourself to other people
A common vice that most of us have struggled with at some point is the constant need to see how we’re measuring up to other people. It is easy to fall into a trap of wanting to compete with others, matching or even outdoing their successes.
Instead, it’s important to realise that everyone moves at a different pace and has different strengths. Freeing yourself from a jealous or insecure mindset is transformational, and allows you to spend more time focusing on what you are good at and enjoy.
4. Take time to have fun
It sounds obvious, but taking time to relax and enjoy yourself guilt-free is invaluable for your happiness, mental health and productivity. No goal is worth sacrificing the things that you love.
5. Accept that you will make mistakes
We’re all human, we’re all learning and very few people get it right the first time. Messing up a big job interview or having that sinking revelation that you don’t enjoy working in your chosen field quite as much as you thought you would is unfortunate, but it’s life. Take some of the pressure off, get up and try again – it’s all part of the adventure.