I really believe that everyone should have goals in life because they give you a reason to get up in the morning.
But, I also believe that many people are so obsessed with the destination that they fail to enjoy their journey there.
People should not fool themselves with the following misbelief: “Once I have achieved my ultimate goal I will experience happiness and fulfillment”.
With this kind of approach, we are doomed to be disappointed when we get to our destination because there is always another target to head for.
So, if we associate gratification with getting to our destination, we are likely to end up thinking: “Is that it?”.
Have you ever experienced this feeling?
The journey is so much richer than the destination.
What we experience along the journey and the person we become thanks to it is much more important than what we get once we hit our target.
We must focus on the NOW because it’s the only moment when we have the power to shape our life thanks to the choices we make.
They turn into actions, and finally into results.
Instead, if we are obsessed with the FUTURE we never savor the NOW.
What’s more, we don’t understand the real value of having a goal, that is enjoying the journey, growing through it, till we become better than what we were when we set off.
At the end of the day, I believe that becoming a better version of ourselves is what we are meant to do in our life.
So don’t bother too much about the destination, instead figure out what you need to do in the present moment, day after day, to continuously improve and get closer to your goal.
Ask yourself: “Are the choices I am making getting me closer or farther from achieving my goal”?
Once again: focus on the journey rather than the destination!
If you do it, over and over again, you will experience happiness and fulfillment every single day.
The journey is the real treasure.
Let me illustrate it by means of the following story.
THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE TREASURE
Once upon a time, in a remote village there lived a wise man, who was consulted by all the inhabitants for advice about how to live a fulfilling, happy and meaningful life.
People even traveled from different faraway regions to hear his enlightening tips.
On the contrary, his only son never listened to him.
They were very different from one another.
The son was lazy and only cared about himself.
He just enjoyed sleeping, hanging out with his friends, and reading adventure books.
When the wise man got older, he realized he needed to do something in order to help his son to become more responsible.
So, one day he summoned his son and told him: “Dear son, it’s time you understood the real purpose of life, what living a meaningful life truly means”.
Pointing at a chest he told his son: “Open it”.
The intrigued son opened the chest and to his surprise found a piece of paper with some drawing on it.
“What’s this?” asked the son.
“It is a treasure map. It was given to me many years ago by a person who had hidden his riches, but I haven’t had the courage to embark on this quest”, the father replied.
The son was eager to go on an adventure and decided to find the place where the treasure was hidden.
The young man traveled many miles, crossed woods, forests, climbed mountains, saw many sunrises and sunsets.
He had to cope with the small quantity of food and money he had and had to ask for help and interact with different people along his journey.
He was also cheated and robbed; he experienced both kindness and generosity, as well as malice and arrogance.
He went through all the different seasons before getting to his final destination. It was a century-old tree!
According to the map the treasure was hidden below the huge tree.
The young man started digging.
He dug for one day without stopping, but he couldn’t find any treasure.
Exhausted by the tremendous effort and disappointed with not finding what he had set off for, he decided to go back home.
On his way back, he had to go through the same winding paths, experiencing the changing seasons and landscapes.
However, this time he was no longer in a rush and driven by the urgent desire to get his hands on a treasure.
Even if the way was exactly the same as he had walked previously, his journey experience was completely different.
He enjoyed every day as if it were the last one.
He learned how to hunt, fish, and make his meals.
He often had to build shelters to protect himself from storms.
He learned to find his way by looking at the sun, the stars, and the surrounding vegetation.
He came across the same people who had helped him in the first place.
This time he spent days in their company willing to return the kindness he had received.
He became aware of how wonderful caring for fellow human beings is.
One day, at the crack of dawn, he spotted his village.
Two long years had gone by before he got back home.
He felt uncomfortable, he was afraid to let his father down on telling him he hadn’t found the treasure.
After an initial moment of hesitation, he went to his father who hugged him warmly.
“My dear son, you are back, tell me about your journey”, the father said.
The son bitterly said: “Sorry father, but I didn’t find the treasure, maybe someone else had the same map and took it before me”.
The father paused for a while before replying: “Dear son, there was no treasure under the tree in the first place, it wasn’t a real treasure map either, I drew it”.
“Why? Why did you cheat me?” the son asked.
“I will tell you only after you have told me about your journey”. The father replied.
“Well father, on my way towards the treasure I was in a hurry, driven just by the craving for it; I was continuously worried that someone else could reach it before me, and so I didn’t enjoy the journey at all.
On the contrary, on my way back I enjoyed every single day. I learned how to survive in challenging situations, how to build shelters, how to hunt, and find my way by looking at the sun, the stars, and the vegetation.
What’s more, I made new friends, shared beautiful moments with them, which made up for the disappointment and pain caused by not finding any treasure”.
Thrilled by his son’s tale, the father replied: “That’s wonderful, my son. You see, my purpose was to teach you to have goals in life, but at the same time not to be so obsessed with them as to miss all the experiences you have along your journey.
They are the real treasure as they enable you to grow and become a better version of yourself.
So, dear son, don’t say you have not found the treasure, because actually, you have”!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Don’t wait till you reach your destination to feel happy and fulfilled: you might be disappointed once you reach your goal.
Many people find themselves upset once they get to their final destination because the object of their desire turns out to be less worth than they expected.
The secret lies in enjoying the journey itself.
The journey is the real treasure!
Start finding happiness and fulfillment while you are on the journey.
Enjoy every single step, don’t rush, but fully live every experience, nice and bad.
The journey is what shapes your life, not the destination.
Thanks to the journey you are on, you get new skills, you widen your perspective, you become aware of your weaknesses and strengths.
Don’t postpone your happiness and fulfillment, you can be happy right now, it’s your choice.
Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life”. - Eckhart Tolle