by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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Some many people want to leapfrog to the end result and gloss over the process used to get there.  THIS DOES NOT WORK, and for several reasons:

You have to develop skills to KEEP you where you desire to go.  Just landing there will have you horribly underprepared for the task at hand.

If it was as easy as snapping your fingers and getting what you want, everyone would do the same.  This means that anything you did end up with would not be special and meaningful, because everyone else would do the same.  Many boys growing up dreaming of catching a game winning touchdown pass on Sunday in the NFL.  But .001% of them ever get a chance to do it.  THAT is why everyone envies that player.

Focusing on the goal makes you far more susceptible to quitting long before you arrive.  Anything difficult is going to be hard to achieve, and by only being satisfied once you arrive at the destination, you are are highly likely to give up before you achieve your goal.

The real secret to achieving things you want, especially the lofty goals and the difficult things, is to fall in love with the process.  As James Clear says in his best-selling book Atomic Habits:

You need to decide who you want to become first, and then reinforce that on a daily basis by doing the things that version of you would do.      Before long, you become the new version of yourself you were striving for.

I was guilty of this.  When starting out at any new activity, I wanted to be good right away.  As a kid, I got so frustrated that my Dad could catch trout fly fishing while all I seem to do was get stuck in the trees.  It took a long time before I was as proficient as he was.  Because I had the benefit of his guidance from such an early age, eventually I surpassed his skill level and went on to become an excellent fly fisherman.  The same was true with wrestling; he was bigger and stronger and better than I was, and I wanted, in an instant, to change that.  Life doesn’t work that way, sorry kid.

When I started out as a racquetball player, the first tournament I played was what is called a Pro-Am, which is just what it sounds like.  The Pro players were part of the overall event, but there were amateur events that could be participated in as well.  I entered the lowest amateur division and got smashed, the first match of the first hour of the first day of the event.  My spirit was crushed to say the least.  I watched the Pros play and desired to be as good as they were, so I set out on that path.  I skipped through lower divisions in my haste to get to the upper echelon of the game.  Because of being in a rush, I lost far more often than I won; I was always facing players far more skilled than I was at that stage.  Once I did reach the top amateur division, I made the leap to the Pros before I ever had any real success on the amateur scene.  I was focused on the goal, which was to be a Pro Racquetball Player.  I neglected several important steps in the process that should have been developed along the way in a slow, steady process.  I should have taken the stairs, but I snuck onto the elevator instead.

You cannot achieve your fitness goals or become a better salesperson or parent or partner in a relationship overnight.  You need the reps, you need to try and fail and get back up and try again.  In some cases you may need to try a different approach before you can move forward.  But what you really need to do is to learn to love the process.  If you can get it through your head that this process is a JOURNEY and not a destination, you will benefit immensely.  You will likely stick it out much longer, as you are doing the part you learned to love, versus “suffering” by not being where you want to be just yet.

You need to appreciate the fact that when you are new at something, you can improve in big chunks.  Literally one practice session that you have a breakthrough in will change your approach moving forward.  Those moments are fairly frequent in the early stages of a sport or task.  The better you get, the less frequently these breakthroughs happen, so you need to revel in the fact that these moments are coming at all, and then also with some level of frequency.  When you move up the proverbial food chain at something, the strides of improvement turn into inching your way forward.

And one final thought on this, and maybe the 1B to the 1A point of taking your time and following the process is this: ENJOY THE RIDE.   If you play a sport, for example, you will have a narrow window of time on your journey when compared to your life in general.  And your time in the spotlight will be fleeting.  For example the average tenure of an NFL running Back is three years in the league.  Think about that, a lifetime of PeeWee football, high school football, then college football, only to spend three years at the “destination”.  That is a tough way to look at it, but realistic nonetheless.  And this is WHY you have to love the process, because the goal will feel like a two week vacation after 50 weeks of work otherwise.  I would have been so much happier along the way if I had learned this sooner.  Hindsight is 20/20, I know, but if you can take this and run with it, I think you will benefit tremendously.

You have to enjoy the ride, learn to love the process, to maximize your enjoyment in life.  The destination is not the only thing to focus on, you need to love the process of getting there.  Appreciate the things you learn, the progress you make, and the overall journey you are on.  Be one of the rare few that can look backwards and smile instead of grimace when you review what you put yourself through.  That’s what I do at times, and I’d trade it all to do it over…but only if I can take with me what I know now.

I wish you luck in your endeavors.

 

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