The first thing we need to do to find success is to stop looking for it. The expression that “Success is a Journey, not a destination” has become so overly used and cliche that I hesitate to suggest it’s importance. I was inspired the first time I heard it, but being as slow as I am to pick up on the subtleties, it’s taken over twenty years to really begin to understand what it means. Yes, we should enjoy the journey on the way to our destination…yes, we’re often disappointed shortly after we get something we’ve been wanting, so we should enjoy the journey. That is true, but it’s occurred to me more recently, as I’ve been starting to look at my habits and examine their consequences, that these explanations fall short.
I’m learning that the quotation above is really hinting at mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of being, not a state of becoming. Mindfulness, to me, most simply means that we let go of the the trappings of regret and anxiety. Our regrets come from the way we think about the past. I’m not suggesting that consequences (contrived or natural) are bad or to be ignored. What I am suggesting is that our past doesn’t have to define us.
Anxieties often come from self doubt regarding how we will perform in the future. Anxiety sits on the shoulders of that little voice that tells us we’re not smart enough, sexy enough, talented enough strong enough, etc. This is a voice that I continue to struggle with today. It’s one of the reasons I’ve created this website.
Relating these ideas to the quotation “Success is a journey, not a destination”, suggests that we need to change our definition of success. We need to be very careful with the assumption that happiness will come once we reach our goal. The goal in fact is secondary in our development. Goals are targets. As a middle school Resource teacher I’ve written and worked toward goals for a living. It’s so easy to get hung up on last year and next year. One of the most common things I hear parents say in this regard is: “I’m worried that [she’s] not going to be ready for high school.” This fear keeps us pinned to a limited now. It’s easy to doubt our potential and let our worries dictate how far we reach.
The truth is, we have every thing we need right here and right now, to be happy in this moment. We don’t need to let our regrets from the past or the worries about the future hold our dreams hostage anymore. The “magic’ comes when we let go and embrace the moment. We can live fulfilled right now. The paradox is that it won’t come later until we find it now.
Success is really a state of being that can begin any time we choose. When I was in high school, there was an Army slogan that ran constantly on TV. It said: “Be, all that you can be…” Hidden in that message is mindfulness. It didn’t say: Become all that you can become. Some marketing genius nailed it. There was a time when I considered joining the Army. I chose college instead…and then traveled on my own rather than through the armed forces.
Success is not about becoming. Success is about being. We must look at the person we want to become and be that now, to scale. We must be disciplined when the amounts are small. The only way to become, is to start being. We can only have the skills and abilities of “success” by practicing the skills and abilities of success now, in this moment. We can only become fulfilled (arguably another way to look at success) if we find fulfillment in the moment. Now is really all the time we have.