Passion for the Process
Written by Amanda Wagner
It’s human nature to dream; to plan for the future and all the things you want to accomplish. Often when thinking about our plans and big goals, we glamorize the hell out of them. We imagine our ideal state of being, having accomplished the goal, and focus on that as a motivation to finish. We think about the people we’ll meet as a result of achieving this dream, the places we’ll get to go, the impact it will have on our career and personal life and, more than likely, the financial benefits. As a result, we often forget that in addition to being great, it will be hard, too. There will be days you don’t want to continue and believe you can’t. Days that are so hard you will question whether the work is worth it. There will be obstacles along the way and periods of reconsidering. But part of the accomplishment is not just achieving that thing, but the hard stuff along the way—the pain of the process.
In January 2017, I joined a new gym. I had read good things about it on a blog and knew it offered free childcare. The icing on the cake–the first month was free. There was nothing to lose. As someone who hadn’t worked out consistently since having my second daughter two years prior, I wasn’t in the best shape. To be honest, it hurt. The workouts were challenging and like most things, there was no instant gratification. But I stuck with it because despite the pain, it made me feel strong and capable. And I hoped results would come.
After 30 days, I officially joined and was regularly attending classes five to six days a week. It wasn’t about any one day or workout, but finding joy in the journey. Despite the rigor and intensity, I began to enjoy going to the gym each day. I looked forward to the crew who regularly attended camp at the same time as me, and my daughters loved the childcare as well. With time, I began to see results. But more importantly, I grew to appreciate the process required for progress. I learned that the only way to reach the goal was with hard work, commitment and a bit of hurt along the way.
When working towards something big, we don’t always think about the hard work. We focus on the end result and how amazing it will be. Then, when the journey gets hard, we get discouraged. We question whether or not to continue. Usually, the answer is yes. To set yourself up for success on the journey, consider the following:
Try it first
As the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know and experience is the only (and best) teacher. If you can, find a way to try out the new thing and immerse yourself in the process. Last year, I decided to start a content consulting gig. I knew I loved writing and wanted to do more of it. The beauty of this goal is that it’s a fairly small-commitment overall, and it was all up to me. I could put in as little or as much effort as I wanted. Anyone who has done something similar knows cold calling is no joke. You have to reach out and reach out again. Sometimes you hear back and other times—radio silence. Along the way, I got discouraged and questioned whether it would work. I also persevered and fell in love with the process. It pushed me outside of my comfort zone, and that’s where growth happens. I also knew if I gave it a go and it didn’t work or it wasn’t for me, it was okay to cut my losses and move on. It’s possible to build up something so much in your head that you lose sight of what you wanted or realize that achieving the goal isn’t worth the harrowing journey to get there.
Outline steps to meet your goal
When identifying a goal, it’s often hard to know how long the timeline is to accomplishment. It might be a few months—or it could be years. The longer it takes to achieve something significant, the easier it is to get derailed. Breaking that goal into bite-sized steps can help make the goal more manageable. The focus isn’t on the ideal state that will come months or years down the road, but on the current step that will get you closer to that ultimate objective.
Celebrate small wins
The other benefit of breaking a goal into smaller steps is that you are set up for early success. And what better way to recognize that success than with a celebration? As a mama who is currently breastfeeding my third daughter, I understand the struggle of learning to breastfeed, pushing through the literal pain and eventually reaching my goal. After having my first child, I set a goal of breastfeeding for one year. But I knew that if I didn’t make it, I would be hugely disappointed. To temper my expectations, I set three-month goals along the way. So many people told me I had tried hard enough or made a valiant effort and should just give up. But I kept going, because I really wanted it. I made it to three months, and then six months, then nine months and finally to a year, with a small amount of supplementing at the end. With these milestones along the way, I got to bask in the success that came every three months as I got closer to my goal. It was easier the second time around since I had a better idea of what I was doing, but I still set small goals as a way to manage my expectations and set myself up for long-term success.
Remember the pain is temporary
When things get hard, it’s all-consuming. It feels like nothing will ever be normal again. We get caught up in a moment in time and convince ourselves this is the new normal. That’s rarely the case. Tough seasons come and go. Some are longer than others. But in a year, or five years or 10 years, will you remember this moment for its challenges or will you look back on it for making you strong, for preparing you to fight even tougher battles and tackle even bigger dreams? It’s possible that gazing in the rearview mirror, you’ll look back and laugh about something that seems so irrelevant after time has passed and new opportunities have arisen.
As we dream, we forget about how hard it is to achieve big things. We choose to ignore the challenges and overlook the roadblocks. We get so caught up in our own heads that we can lose sight of reality. I’m a planner and a dreamer. I want to do big things and set my sights high. But I also want to always consider what it takes to do big things, because sometimes the sacrifices are too much and the journey too hard. Other times, the grind is everything it should be and makes reaching the goal that much sweeter.
The question you need to ask: Is the goal you’re reaching for worth weeks, months or even years of hard? Hopefully, the answer is yes. If not, it’s time to go after another dream instead.
Amanda Wagner owns a small wine bar in Minneapolis and runs a side hustle creating content to help brands tell their story. When not hustling, she and her husband are raising a house full of girls and enjoying the little things in life. She received her Master of Business Communication from the University of St. Thomas where after graduating she managed graduate business alumni relations (always interesting to communicate with an audience of which you are a part). Learn more about Amanda’s content hustle at www.greenhousecontentco.com.