With Memorial Weekend right around the corner, I think a lot of people are making plans for summer vacation. I know I am. I’ve also read that people spend more time planning their vacations than they do their lives—but that’s another topic for another blog post. Then this morning I listened to another lecture by Abraham-Hicks and through the course of a question and answer period Abraham said, “You didn’t come to get it done.” Another way of saying that is, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” However, if you are anything like me, I need to be reminded over and over that the gift of today is reason enough for my life. What about you?
Abraham-Hicks offers a perfect example of what she means by, “You didn’t come to get it done.” This particular lecture was recorded during a cruise from Amsterdam to Rome, enjoying several stops along the way. Abraham said, “If the whole point of this trip was to arrive in Rome and get off the ship, would any of you go to the captain and say, just take us there and forget all the other stops?” Obviously, the answer to that would be an emphatic “No!”
Think about any vacation plans you might be making for this summer. Chances are good you’ll just end up back home when you’re done—so does that mean you might as well not go? It makes sense when talking about a vacation or anything we think we want to do. But what about all the events of our day-to-day lives? Or what about the things we’d prefer not to experience? Still, if the whole point of our life was to get to age 95 (or more) as quickly as possible, and then die—why bother? Instead, every 365 days of the year we have the opportunity to enjoy the journey. Or not.
Abraham-Hicks then posed another example relative to going to the buffet on the cruise ship. Is the point of any meal to stuff ourselves? Would any of us attempt to take every single bit of food piled in the dining hall back to our own table and eat it all at once? No! Most of us realize that sampling a bit of this and that is far more enjoyable. The company sitting at the table matters. Then tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, we try different things sit with new people along the way—experiencing and enjoying along the way. Again, we didn’t come to get it all done or to eat it all in one sitting.
This isn’t rocket science so why do we all rush around acting as though we can’t be happy or have a fulfilled life until everything is packaged up perfectly or every duck we know is lined up in our lives? I spent a little time thinking about it and here are five reasons I think we (I) routinely forget that we came for the journey, not just the destination.
- We are guilty of “if only” or “yeah, but…” thinking. It is far too easy to tell ourselves we can only be happy “if” something happens in our lives or use excuses like “yeah but…” to justify our lack of fulfillment. Instead, by enjoying the process and letting go of our excuses, we can empower ourselves to shift our focus from complaint to inspiration.
- We constantly compare our lives to other people and events. No matter how wonderful our life may be, there will always be others who appear to be experiencing better health, have more money, or seem to do more interesting things or work than us. Just look at Facebook anytime day or night! Instead, I am reminded to celebrate my own successes and to notice each and every moment of the good I can find right in front of me.
- It’s easier to blame other people and circumstances than to take response-ability for our own choices and experiences. There is something about the human ego that finds it much easier to blame others than to admit that we are part of the problem OR the solution. Feeling victimized by others or circumstances might momentarily let us off the hook, but in the long run we forfeit our empowerment and wellbeing to do it.
- We forget to practice gratitude and be grateful for the good that we have right now. I get that it’s easy to dream and imagine all sorts of wonderful things that we wish we could do, be and have. But anytime I routinely forget to be thankful for what I do have, I am creating a habit to be unsatisfied instead. Far better to make it a habit to be grateful and enjoy my life.
- We’ve been taught that our future good depends upon sacrifices made today. Some of us were taught that we don’t deserve to be happy now—only after we spend our lives in service and sacrifice may we someday hope to be rewarded. Even those who realize that much of that message was a manipulation, we still carry the seeds of it around with us on a regular basis. Unless we become willing to accept that we deserve to be happy today—we might never be able to enjoy the journey.
Of course, it might seem that this lesson is permission to chuck it all and do whatever you want right now with no thought for the future. As a person who loves to plan, I can’t imagine living life without a destination in mind. Perhaps that’s why I like this statement from Abraham-Hicks so much. Rather than say the destination doesn’t matter, she says, “We didn’t come to get it done.” In other words, it’s okay to want. It’s okay to plan. It’s okay to reach for the stars. Just don’t let the absence of those stars, or the complete fulfillment of the plan, keep you from feeling good today.
I’m also reminded that what makes the journey so enjoyable to me is the process of evolving and unfolding an intention. Right now I am working on another blog-to-book about positive aging. I’ve been writing articles about that topic and believe that a book containing the best of my blog posts surrounding that idea will be well received. But the process is complicated and challenging. So, it’s tempting to believe that once the book is done and available for sale I can be happy. But as I’ve explained above—getting it done or reaching that “destination” is just a set point. If I’m not happy with my life right now, if I’m not enjoying the process of creating something new right now, having another book in my series won’t mean a thing.
Taoism has a saying, “The journey is the reward.” Perhaps if we all started remembering that the next 24 hours in front of us is what really matters, we would remember to be grateful for all the little things. Perhaps even better, we wouldn’t ignore the little joys filling our days, or put off anything that we know makes us smile and brings more meaning to our lives. Our lives may never be perfect in someone else’s definition, but if we’re SMART we will remember that that isn’t the point in the first place. After all, we didn’t come to get it done.
Like you, Kathy, I also love to plan. I fully agree with your summary that it’s okay to plan and to reach for the stars but not to let our planning keep us from enjoying (and noticing) different parts of our journey. Great post!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Donna! I so appreciated the opportunity to dive into the subject when writing this post because as a planner, I’m sure you’ve had others chastise you (like me) for overplanning and/or not being more “spontaneous.” But I tried that a couple of times (especially with travel) and found that I felt I missed out. While I did continue to enjoy the moment as I went along, I carried a feeling that I might be overlooking or missing out on things that particular location offered by not researching it in advance. I also missed the joy I get from all the preplanning and thinking about the trip in advance. (Studies now say that is almost more enjoyable to most people than their actual trip.) What seems to work the best for me is to plan out my travel. Research the heck out of the locations in advance. Then to do my best to leave lots of gaps and open space in the itinerary to either change my mind or do nothing at all. And yes, that sort of works in everyday life too. We are all so different in different ways–I think the important thing is to recognize what brings US the most joy and satisfaction and then follow our own hearts on the journey of life. ~Kathy
What a great post and an important reminder to enjoy the process. When my husband and I had business cards made for our retirement life, I put the “Life is a journey, not a destination” quote on the back. It resonated with me then, and maybe it resonates even more now.
I LOVE that business card, Janis! Such a wonderful reminder to keep in front of ourselves every single day!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Janis! Good for you. What a wonderful way to remember the idea by putting it on your business cards. But I’m also appreciating the Taoism quote these days because it is another way to say the same thing. May we both continue to embrace the idea as the years unfold. ~Kathy
Oh my goodness yes Kathy! I love to plan trips too. When I was a child I couldn’t wait until my age was double digits, then I couldn’t wait to be a teenager then I couldn’t wait to go off to college. Finally there I realized to enjoy what is happening now and enjoy the journey. Of course sometimes I have to stop myself and get a grip on enjoying right now even if it is at the dentist or something else unpleasant.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Haralee! Then vacation planning is another thing we share in common. One of these days I hope our paths cross and we can sit down and REALLY get to know one another. Meanwhile, let’s continue to do our best to enjoy today. Happy Memorial Weekend! ~Kathy
Lizzie Lau says
The journey is the reward! Yes! I feel an immense responsibility to instill this belief in my daughter. I’ve always emphasized the importance of experiences over stuff, and at 7 she’s already happy to forego collecting stuff in favor of being able to travel and have adventures. Yesterday, before we boarded a plane to Oakland to attend BottleRock Napa, we stopped at the local Food Bank to drop off the big box of food she collected at her birthday party – she asked for non-perishables instead of gifts. I’m grateful that our journey is filled with so much joy.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Lizzie! What a great mom you are! You should be so proud of your daughter for instilling in her the joy that comes from helping others. As you know, that “experience” will stay with her far longer than any toy or gift would have. I have no doubt that your journey–and her’s–will continue to be rewarding and fulfilling all the days of your life! ~Kathy
Still the Lucky Few says
As always, your articles are wise and so SPECIFIC! You always get to the nub of what I, for one, need to know and review. With me, this time, it’s putting off this moment’s happiness for the future. There’s always something I need to get done in order to allow myself to just be here and be happy! I think it’s a common complaint—I’ve just read Lynne’s comment, and see that it is. We were all conditioned that way—maybe younger generations understand this better. What we may see as self-absorbed behavior may be wiser in the long run!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Diane! What’s the saying, “we write about what we most need to learn/remember?” It is so wonderful to have a blog and be connected to others like you who add to the conversation. As many other say about life itself, “we are all in this together!” And who knows how the younger generations will see all this. I sincerely hope they make the connection far quicker than most of us! ~Kathy
Well said!. But one thing that can make us all mindful of the gift of just an ‘ordinary’ day (the journey) is the loss of all ordinary days due to illness. I never hesitated to pray for my husband’s wellness and for our ability to have just have some ordinary days once he became very ill. Vacations and such thoughts were not even on my mind – just the pleasure of an ordinary day – holding his hand, enjoying his face, talking, sitting, just being – were the things I wanted most, nothing grander. Then, as he began to heal and gain strength, we started making future fun plans for travel and exploring – until we realized that the ordinary days were the true pleasure of our lives. Now, I not only pray for his continued wellness, but I am mindful to thank God for every, single ordinary day that I have with him. It’s totally the journey, Kathy. All the goals we are supposed to desire – travel, cars, houses, possessions – are OK, but they are just the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae – and the ice cream is really great with or without the cherry. Maybe I am late to learning this important life lesson, but life sure feels so much fuller loving my ‘everydays’ instead of just the ones in some foreign location.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Ronda! Thanks for jumping in her with your own personal experience of this. I doubt there is anything that can bring the point home until someone we love deeply faces a health issue. Every day is a gift and especially days that are pain-free! But your thoughts also triggered the importance of mindfulness in everyday life. No matter how much “fun” it is for me to plan things– I don’t want to miss the good in front of my nose. It also reminds me of when I was young and thought that money or having stuff was the key to a happy and successful life. I too wish I had learned it when I was younger but better late than never!!! Thank you so much for your input! ~Kathy
Lynne Spreen says
The fifth reason is the one that applies most often to me. I was raised to be a good girl. I got submerged in sacrifice. Manipulation: so true, and sad. My religion and my family (the latter unwittingly, meaning only the best) were guilty of shaping me that way. But one day I read something expounding the value of knowing what you want. What makes ME happy? If I could do anything at all in the world right at that moment, what would make me happy. And I, who had spent so many years and paychecks making everyone else happy, DID NOT KNOW. Can you believe that!? But true. I was about 40 when that happened. It shook me. Your post speaks to that. So incredibly important. Thanks, Kathy. I’m going to use this comment in a future blog post of my own, because I just remembered this (again). I’ll link to your post.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Lynne! Thanks for your thoughts on this. I’d guess that #5 primarily resonates with most women–at least us baby-boomer women because I don’t know any of my peers that had parents that encouraged us to “just be ourselves.” As you said, we are trained almost from the beginning to please others for attention and reward and that is a hard habit to give up. I’m not saying that sometimes it’s not worth it, but I do believe that most of the time we don’t even realize the tradeoff. As you say, many don’t even recognize the behavior. Then throw in what many preachers and/or teachers add to that conditioning and it’s no wonder we have no clue what it is that will make us happy. Perhaps one of the greatest journeys in life is that discovery???? And I look forward to reading your post about some of this? I don’t think we can mull it around enough! ~Kathy