Everywhere we look we are bound to see individuals on the move- going from one place to another, working on crossing that next item off the to-do list, taking one step closer towards that ultimate goal. As an individual and a psychotherapist, I believe that people are inherently oriented towards growth, cultivation, and change- hence, all this movement!
It can be so easy to develop tunnel vision; to begin to see only the next five steps we need to complete. And there will always be more steps. It seems that our “end goals” are often changing and evolving before we even reach them. By the time we have accomplished our initial goal, that’s no longer the goal we are striving for! While this is a wonderful testament of the ability to grow, it can also leave individuals feeling as though they are never reaching the finish line- like they are on a never ending treadmill, this close to the destination.
It is so important that we develop the capacity to enjoy the process, as well as the outcome. If our only sense of fulfillment comes out of achieving a specific outcome, we are missing an abundance of opportunities to recognize the progress and learning that take place along the way. Oftentimes, we cannot guarantee a specific outcome; outcome may be influenced by things beyond our immediate control. If all of our meaning is to be derived from achieving a specific outcome, what happens if we don’t reach it? Does it make the entire process and experience a waste? This is often part of what prevents individuals from trying new things or taking a risk- a fear that unless they reach a specific, predetermined outcome, they will be a failure.
How can we remain invested in achieving goals while also valuing the process and experience by which this happens?
1. Reorient yourself. Ask yourself “What am I learning, enjoying, or engaging in at this moment that is meaningful to me, regardless of how this ends?”
2. Step into “big picture” thinking. Take a moment to zoom out of your current situation. Where have you already grown from, even if you are not at the “final destination”? It is easy to downplay and dismiss progress that occurs before the desired result, but it through this progress that results are achieved. Just because you have not yet achieved the desired result does not mean that meaningful change has not occurred.
3. Recognize that growth does not have an end point. We are constantly learning, growing, adapting! Most of us are always working towards something- a work in progress, if you will. The fact that you and your goals continue to evolve and change is not a sign of failure or lack of achievement- it is a sign of being human and our capacity to grow, always!
To learn more or to book an appointment, contact me via telephone or email.
Brenna Burke, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Santa Clarita, CA. She provides individual psychotherapy and couples counseling. Information provided through this website is for informational purposes only. It does not create a therapist-client relationship and does not replace clinical assessment or professional consultation.