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Stop focusing on the DESTINATION, and enjoy the JOURNEY!

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I don’t know about you, but when I finally start shaking off the cold of yet another long winter here in the Midwest, and the sun shines down through my windshield for more than 2 days in a row, my thoughts start zoning-in on only one thing, and only one thing … the visions in my mind start becoming crystal-clear, as the first two feet of water on a warm Gulf-of-Mexico beach… get’n my toes in the sand & a cool drink in my hand! 

 

Like most everyone listening to the sound of my voice, the last year has been just a “tad” more stressful, than most of us… hell, who am I kidding?… than ALL of us, could have ever imagined and many of us had vacations planned, or we’re going to just take off somewhere for at least a long-weekend, but had to cancel everything… and wait… and wait… and watch 3 seasons pass us by. So here we are, most of us overworked, frustrated & really needing the break… needing to go somewhere… anywhere… right?

So, I remember being in a very similar situation (minus the pandemic) about 10 years ago… it had been a few years since my last vacation, and I had been working extremely hard… lots of high-pressure weeks and months in a row, teenage girls with their daily drama & we all just needed a break from the routine. We quickly planned a trip, stressed-out over where to stay, dates, rental car, who’s taking care of the animals and everything else… it was not enjoyable at all… in fact it was just as stressful as the past 2 years of work had been, but all’s I could think of was the destination…. It was my favorite vacation spot, Sanibel Island, we had been there several times in the past, and ALL I COULD THINK OF was getting my two feet in 2 feet of bathwater-warm water in the Gulf of Mexico. It didn’t matter how I got there, I just wanted to be there… ASAP!

Once we arrived on the Island, rushed to the condo, I didn’t unpack or check out the condo, or the awesome grounds… nope… just threw my bags on the bed, found my shorts, pushed past my wife & kids and damn-near RAN down to the beach & into the Gulf…. YEP…. I was finally THERE, standing in 2 feet of warm Gulf ocean water and it was frik’n glorious…YEPGLORIOUS!… for about 5 minutes… and then it started to fade, and I’m standing there in the ocean thinking “OK, I finally made it, I’m in the water just like I imagined” …. Now what?

I had this image of me standing in the ocean, smiling ear-to-ear, for weeks and weeks and weeks, and now here I was, at my DESTINATION…. My goal had just peaked, and I was starting to feel the remainder of my time on the island would somehow be less than… that somehow it may not measure up…. I was starting to feel a little let down? …well SHIT! … how can this be?

Simple, I was so focused on the DESTINATION… on achieving the goal, that I failed to enjoy the journey, I failed to enjoy the planning stage, the anticipation, bring my kids to the airport which usually is an exciting event for kids (I know it sucks for adults), I failed to enjoy the scenic 40 min drive through Ft Myers area of Florida from the airport, I failed to enjoy the beautiful drive on the island to out condo and so much more. I know I would eventually end up with toes in the sand, but I just simply failed to enjoy that journey.

Most of us do the exact same things in so many other areas of our lives.

Some of you may have (or had) goals of maybe doubling your yearly sales, buying a 2nd or 3rd shop location, maybe adding on to your building, or selling your business to retire.

Others may want to launch a new business, lose 20 or 30 lbs of weight before summer, vacation in a foreign country, or build a new home.

But in todays’ “click-n-scroll”/ next-day delivery world of instant gratification, we don’t want to wait one extra minute, no… we’ll cut a check if possible, to go faster… to make it happen right now.

 

Sure, if your checking account is big enough, you can buy out your closest competitor and vastly increase or double your sales instantly. You can pay someone to start a new business for you, set everything up and you just have to put your name on it, or pay a personal trainer to come to your house & work you & starve you to death and lose a bunch of weight quickly or you can buy a spec-built home that could be moved into quickly…. But you would miss out on so much.

You would miss out of how satisfying it would be to learn how to properly market your shop(s) to organically grow your sales… or to learn the process of structuring a brand new business and getting it off the ground… or to start a well-planned diet & exercise program and maybe start walking or running a couple miles around where you live & maybe discovering some scenic trails that you never knew existed, or experience the incredible satisfaction of selecting every aspect, every material, colors and features of a new home build and ultimately moving in to your “custom” home.

This is where we miss some of the most important lessons in life, some of the best feelings we ever experience some from going through something difficult, or having to learn one thing to accomplish another thing, making it through to the other side. The satisfaction of completing a goal, where you had to work hard, fail, try another angle, stress out a bit, toil, then using your best mind and instincts… and succeed! … now that’s a feeling you can’t buy and you can’t replace.

I’m assuming most of you listening to this podcast right now, including our hard-working better halves, are used to working with your hands. At some point in your life, you probably have built/ fixed up or remodeled something at you shop or your home, right?

Maybe you built an addition, or a garage, or remodeled your front office, your kitchen, redid your landscaping, planted a garden or a million other work or home projects (or goals) that required your sweat equity to complete.

It takes your time, your energy, your money and your talents to accomplish… you have setbacks, failures, injuries (like Tim “the Toolman” Taylor) and unforgettable life-lessons along the way… all those things, coupled with the emotions experienced during those projects and events, create stories you remember and love to share, with whomever will listen (whenever the subject comes up) for the rest of your life, right?

Sure you could have cut a check to get those projects done, to get to the destination, but you would not have learned or experienced anything short of a drop in your bank account & being able to cross something off your to-do list.

You would have missed the journey… or the parts of life that bring us the most growth… the most value… the most memories… and the best stories to share with others.

Now you remember my vacations story at the beginning of this right?… the one that was somewhat unfulfilling because all I cared about was the destination? … well, I don’t want to give the wrong impression, it wasn’t horrible… far from it… I mean I was on a damn beautiful island for a week… it didn’t suck!… but the point was I didn’t enjoy the journey, at all, and other than the first 5 minutes of mental orgasm I had there in the warm Gulf water… I couldn’t tell you one other thing I did the rest of that week… it did not stick in my memories.

Now conversely, I had a vacation a few years ago that quite the opposite.

Please keep in mind I’m not trying to brag about my vacations, I’m just trying to drive home a point.

Anyways, I had never been to California, but my wife has some relatives North of Santa Barbara, so we though we would plan a vacation that could include seeing & spending some time with her sister’s family. **Notice I used the word PLAN!

I wanted to see as much of the Southern California coastline as possible while there (because I’m a nut about coastlines), so we sat down & factored that in to our PLAN. We decided to fly to San Diego, rent a car & drive up the coast, eventually end up in San Jose to fly home.

Other than knowing we would spend a night or two in San Diego, and a couple days at her sisters, the rest of the days were unscheduled, I convinced my wife we could just “wing it” and it would be a lot more fun!

Sure, I had a few spots I wanted to see like the San Diego zoo, Laguna Beach, Oceanside & anywhere I could walk amongst the giant redwoods, but other than that, we really did wing it… and it was hands down, the most memorable vacation I have ever experienced!

Without the schedule most people would have on a trip like this, and the flexibility to decide on where we would stop next or spend the night, this old overspray-poisoned, alcohol-tainted mind of mine, managed to store & recall many awesome experiences that I will share with others for years to come…. quite simply, we completely enjoyed the journey, because we weren’t focused on a destination!

In fact, I was so pleased and excited about how that style of vacationing worked out, I did the same thing the following year with a trip up the West coast of my home state Michigan with the same, highly-satisfying results!

Have you every wondered why out of all the people that win the lottery or have great windfalls or inheritances, more than 70% are broke within 3-5 years?

Or why venture capital backed businesses fail at a 75% rate, or over 50% of all new businesses fail within the first 5 years?

They are completely missing the actual journey to wealth or success, and all that is learned along that path & jumping right to the destination of being “rich” or the destination of having a “new business”, …. Unfortunately, /were not properly prepared from the journey.

 

There are a couple great quotes that speak to this I have seen many times, a couple of my favs:

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome” – Arthur Ashe (tennis great)

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” – Christopher Columbus

My message is simply this:

When we focus on only the destination, we can short-cut our way there and achieve what we set out to accomplish, but we cheat ourselves out of the very things that make life worth living… when we focus on and really learn to enjoy the journey, we learn, we grow, we create memories that last a lifetime… I believe we truly live life the way it’s meant to be lived!

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