As we wrap up this month talking about different ways we can savour our life, this phrase comes to mind, “Enjoy the Journey.” It is an overused cliche, but there is a lot of truth to it, and a lot that we can take from it.
I’m going to be talking about it specifically in the context of working on projects. These projects might be things that you do in your job, around the house, to help others or to improve your own life.
Savouring the work infuses mindfulness and gratitude into whatever we are doing. If we can find a way to savour the work, even the difficult parts of life, we can bring greater depth to our everyday experiences.
Start the Journey: Stop planning and put in the work
My favourite part of most projects is the planning stage. So I have a tendency to procrastinate a little in the planning stages (though I’m getting better about this). And I get impatient during the “putting in the work” stage. I kind of want to skip over that step, get the rewards, and move on to planning the next phase of the project, or the next project altogether.
And that is why the phrase “Enjoy the Journey” has been echoing in my mind. Because I know I can’t skip the work. And when I really think about it, I know that I don’t want to. There is a kind of magic that happens when you put in the work on projects that you care about. That’s why we start these journeys, why we put in the work on these projects.
This is the reason that I started this blog. I knew I wanted to explore the basic foundational habits that are necessary to thrive. So I thought and I planned and came up with the 7 Foundations for the Good Life. And I planned to write one post on each of those, then spend a month going deeper into each one. This month is the 5th out of the 7 that I’ve been following my plan.
There are so many things that learned about since I wrote my first post. And there is so much more to learn.
Learn on your Journey: You don’t know what you don’t know
You can plan all you want, but the best-laid plans tend to get derailed once life happens. I don’t mean that we give up on plans, or that there’s no point to making plans. Rather, once you start putting in the work, once you lean into enjoying the journey, you discover things that you had no way of knowing before you started. You can dream, you can visualize, you can plan, you can interview people who have been there before. But none of that will actually prepare you. Not like rolling up your sleeves and getting started. Getting started is the only way to really find out what you need to learn.
When you start, you don’t know what you don’t know. When I graduated high school, my plan was to go into the pharmacy program. I didn’t even know dietitians existed. I didn’t know that I could go to school to learn about nutrition. I probably wouldn’t have found out about it if I hadn’t go to the University of Saskatchewan where they have the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition.
I wouldn’t have been able to go on this journey I’ve been on to learn about how food affects our body. I wouldn’t have realized that what we eat is about more than food. I might not have started thinking about habits or the ideas that lead to this blog.
We don’t know what we don’t know. And we’ll never find out if we stick to the planning stage or skip over the work.
Continue the Journey: Keep going even when it gets hard
It is the difference between professionals and amateurs. Professionals put in the work, long after the amateurs have given up. The professionals find a way to fall in love with the process. They know that the work is going to pay off, but they also enjoy the journey. The professionals are the ones who master skills and improve their lives.
You can’t do everything all at once. So you can, and perhaps should, decide not to be a professional at some things. I’m never going to be a professional athlete, nor was I going to be at any point. I have no desire to put in the work to get there. It is not that important to me. Yes, I want to be active, but I’m not going to compete.
But there are other areas where I want to show up as a professional. To build the skills that are important to me, and to live the kind of life I want, I need to keep working on it, even when it gets difficult or boring.
Why Enjoy the Journey: The Good Life takes work
It’s an interesting phenomenon. I know I feel better physically and mentally if I do something active – go for a walk, do yoga, even doing the dishes. Yet once I sit down on the couch, I don’t want to move. I know I feel better when I’m working on a project, yet I also want to spend all day watching TV or reading a book. There does need to be a balance. We can’t work all the time, we also need to rest.
Yet, once I take a break, I don’t want to get back to working on my projects. Because it feels like work. It feels like I don’t have enough energy, yet I become energized by doing things. This is yet another way the phrase, “Enjoy the Journey”, can help. It reminds me that there is enjoyment in the work. It feels good to finish a project. It feels good to do something well. And it feels good to make things.
A journey may be long and arduous, yet it also allows us to grow. Enjoying the journey is about savouring the growth process. It’s not easy, it’s not comfortable. But that growth is what makes us feel that we are on the right path. It gives a depth of meaning to something that might otherwise feel like just a daily grind. The growth we experience when doing something new is also why we become energized by doing something a little difficult.
Enjoy the Journey is a cliche. Yet it has been repeated so many times because there is truth to it. When you aim to savour the process, you’ll discover a few things:
Stop planning and put in the work
Professionals put in the work. Amateurs quit.
You don’t know what you don’t know
The Good Life takes work
Let me know: What thoughts are circling in your mind after reading this?
You are reading this because you are interested in improving your life. That means we have something in common. I’m still working on what the Foundations for the Good Life is all about, and I’d love for you to join me in this journey. I’d love to build a community with you. With people who are trying to figure out what “the good life” means, and how to set up their life to make it possible for them.
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