“If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.” -Seneca
The goal, the big dream or vision is often what motivates us to start. To finally take action. And we do need something to shoot for. Otherwise we’ll just drift. But it’s when the goal becomes just another signpost on the road. When we fall madly in love with process, so much so that we’d do the thing anyway, regardless of outcome…that’s when we know we’re on the right track.
Paul Shirley writes about this in his excellent book, “The Process Is The Product”:
To accomplish anything challenging and worthwhile, we have to care enough to push through the times when we want to stop or give up—when our phones are too tempting, or when the prospect of another job interview makes us nauseous, or when it’s the end of the workday and we don’t really want to do all those sit-ups because it would be a lot easier to flop onto the couch and watch TV. Sometimes we call this desire “passion.” Sometimes “motivation.” Sometimes “grit” or “determination” or “resilience.” But really, it’s this: in the long run, it feels better to do it than to not do it. As in, we like it. That’s the trick: turning the pursuit of a long-term goal into something that’s inherently enjoyable by figuring out what it is we love about the day-to-day of working toward that goal.
This is turning our process into our product—setting a long-term goal, coming up with a system for how to arrive at that goal, and then becoming so captivated by our system that the goal stops being a destination and starts being a signpost on the route to fulfillment, meaning, and long-term satisfaction.