I don’t go around quoting R&B artists very often, but what can I say? When something sticks, it sticks. Usher made this comment while responding to Josh Kaufmann’s final performance on this season’s finale of “The Voice.” As I cheered for and listened to the final three artists, I thought about that quote and what it meant not only for Josh, but for the other artists too. Being a fan of the show, I could appreciate the journey these singers made from the blind auditions to the final show. They each had the goal to be the winner. And from a coach’s perspective, I imagine Usher felt that his job was to not only coach Josh so that he could ultimately win the competition, but to also coach Josh to help him become successful in the music industry. I’m not on a singing show, nor am I preparing for any type of competition, so why did that quote grab my attention?
In my world of ADD, lots of things can quickly grab my attention – oh! A piece of candy! But I knew something was up when I found myself thinking about that quote yet again while I was on my morning walk. Perhaps it was the clean air. Perhaps it was the beauty of springtime. Perhaps it was the early-morning silence and stillness that surrounded me, but while on that walk, I realized why that quote hit me so hard.
You see, like many, I have goals. To be a professional (a.k.a. paid) writer. To earn a Ph.D. To publish my first book. To get more consulting and speaking gigs. And, like many, I find myself stressing out over making sure I accomplish these goals. And, also like many, I’m missing out on enjoying the every-day triumphs while stressing out.
For example, I really thought I would have completed my book by now. No really. That thing should’ve been done ages ago. I can feel the irritation bubbling up from the pit of my stomach right now just thinking about it. I tell myself things like, “It’s almost done!” and “Only a bit more to go!” to keep myself motivated. Then I start thinking about why I haven’t finished it. Oh, I can come up with plenty of excuses. Regardless of the excuses, it’s a goal that I have yet to achieve.
“The journey is the destination.”
While walking and wallowing in my self-pity and loathing the fact that I haven’t fully committed to completing the task in a more timely fashion, this quote snuck into my brain. I immediately stopped and took a look around. It was as if a dirty piece of film was lifted from my eyes. And what I saw was beautiful. Gorgeous, large pink flowers on a lush green bush in bloom. A weeping willow with branches gracefully flowing down toward a pond. Vines upon vines of sweet-smelling jasmine reaching toward the sun. If that quote hadn’t snuck into my brain at that precise moment, I wouldn’t have stopped in my tracks and I would have missed all the beauty that Mother Earth was providing at that moment.
The goals I set for myself became a thick veil covering my eyes to which I could only focus. I had developed long-term laser vision. By focusing so much on my goals, I was missing out on so much more. Now don’t get me wrong. Having goals is a good thing. I mean, we all need a reason to get up in the morning. But in our desire to achieve these goals, we can forget to appreciate and enjoy what’s happening in the here and now.
My goal is to finish my book. But in the race against time, I forgot to stop and appreciate the journey of writing that book. For me, writing is cathartic. When I put pen to paper (and yes, I will sometimes literally put pen to paper – weird, I know), I feel more emotionally connected to who I really am than when doing anything else. For me, writing is a cleansing ritual. Any research I do makes me feel renewed and the writing I do makes me feel relieved. It’s an incredibly personal process. And it’s a process that I enjoy immensely.
“The journey is the destination.”
Thank you, Usher for reminding me of this important point. And for you, faithful reader, here is my gift. Keep the goals. It’s important to have a destination, to have a purpose. At the same time, appreciate the setbacks. Appreciate the experiences. Appreciate the people (the good and the bad). Appreciate the here and now and the beauty that is right before you.
Appreciate the journey.