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Tame the Inner Enemy to 'Enjoy the Journey'

Is Your Mind your Best Friend, or Your Worst Enemy?

One of my clients is a young man.   He is a great guy.   Super dedicated and hardworking.   I admire his work ethic and commitment.   

Isn’t it funny how we seem to admire those qualities we don’t feel we embody – or at least didn’t embody at some point in our lives. 

He also has a trait where he is very hard on himself and has a very difficult time detaching the desired outcome from the work.   I have experience with this trait.   And I think we all do to varying degrees.

It’s not like you’d see it openly – or hear it out loud.   It’s the voice we all have in our mind…the voice that could be our best friend, but is most often our biggest enemy.

The insidious inner dialogue that plants seeds of doubt, fear, comparison, discouragement, and distraction can pose significant challenges when it comes to establishing and reaching goals.

Here are a few of the main warning signs.

1.      Although you’ve heard the platitude before, you don’t actually focus on the ACTION of enjoying the process.  It can be fucking miserable to be only outcome-focused - especially if the outcome isn’t reached!  It’s lack of enjoyment.   Only giving yourself permission to celebrate and experience joy AFTER the whole process is done!   Completely missing out on the value of all the present moments & learning opportunities always available throughout the journey.


2.      Pressure.  Constantly striving for specific results can create immense pressure, leading to chronic stress and anxiety.  Most people do NOT thrive under immense pressure.   The research shows that performance can drop 30-50% under high pressure situations.   Those who put a lot of pressure on themselves must find ways to combat that mindset if they are to enjoy the day to day.


3.      Fear of Failure.  The fear of not achieving desired outcomes can be overwhelming and paralyzing.  Then the comparisons start.   The other person did it and I didn’t – this thought is on repeat and is the absolute thief of joy.   Avoid it like the plague!


4.      Losing motivation because of the cumulative drag of the above points.


5.      Burning out due to extended low motivation and the mind infusing more doubt with “why can’t I just stay motivated!”.   Exhausting.


6.      If you do reach the goal, you barely celebrate because there is always more to do & something more to accomplish or strive for; and the build up in your mind superseded the actual dopamine rush when the goal was achieved… then the enjoyment just doesn’t last long.

The list could go on…I’m sure you could help me get this list to 25 items!


The Way Out Of the Misery

What does it even mean to “focus on the journey” at a practical level??

Well, it means practicing your mindfulness for one.   You do that by being present and noticing your thoughts – what is the message your mind is telling you?   Is it positive or negative?   And if it is your inner bastard judge running the show (which is most common), is the thought 100% accurate and true?   Usually far from.  Call out your inner bitch judge and correct the thought in real time!  Who are you at your core?   Your best self.   You are not your lower vibrational thoughts.

Second – it means reconnecting with what you enjoy about your work or chosen path.   Why did you start this journey in the first place?   What had you excited at the beginning?   What do you really like about the work?  How does it feel in the moment?  Who are you helping?  What people around you are awesome?  Rediscover the joy of the activity, relationships, and your purpose.  

And third – focusing on the growth moments that happen along the way.   This is a MASSIVE one!    What skills are you picking up?   How will those skills support you as you continue onward?   Who are you becoming along this journey?  What relationships are you building?   What are some of the many ways that the process is equipping you for further success?   Look back at all the skills you have gained along the way…and project that same growth in the near future…where might that take you??

Lastly, being intentionally grateful for all the little wins, these processed focused strategies, and for being who you are, is the icing on top.  The integration of the improved framing and mindset.


It's a BIGTIME, Powerful Shift

I’ll be honest…making the shift from primarily focused on the outcomes, to primarily focused on the process & your growth potential, is a HUGE one.   It’s deep.   And deep shifts take time and consistent practice.   Commitment.

Here’s the thing though… it’s ALWAYS worth the work!   Never once have I or anyone I’ve coached ever said – “That challenge and growth, and who I’ve become as a result, was totally NOT worth it!”   It just sounds ridiculous, right?!

The time is going to pass anyways…might as well do the GOOD work, and become who you were always meant to grow into and be.


The Daily Work

So, pick an important goal or project you are working on, sit down and write out a handful of things you are truly grateful for as a result of the daily work, and focus on why it’s important to you.   Jot down a few skills it is helping you develop (e.g. persistence, focus, resilience, communication, etc.) and build future, even-bigger goals and achievements.

Then each day – throughout the day (note: set a reminder) – marinate in the good feelings of why you are doing the do today!   Not for the outcome…but for the growth and elevated human you are becoming each and every day!

You are loved.  And everything works out from this place.

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