If You Knew You Would Succeed, You Could Enjoy The Journey

For many years I had this quote on my wall.

It was a reminder that I have a tendency to waste the current moment worrying about the future.

I would have enjoyed medical school much more, if I had known that I would pass all of my exams ( I did just sneak through pharmacology with a bare pass but that is another story!).

I would have enjoyed the time when my children were little so much more, if I had known that they would grow into delightful human beings. (Which they have, in my completely unbiased opinion!).

It goes on and on.

Even though I had this reminder stuck on my wall, I still found myself hooked by my worries.

I now take a slightly different ACT informed approach.

I accept that my mind has a natural tendency to worry. When worries come up I see them for what they are – my mind doing it’s best to look after me – and I let those thoughts play in the background. (This is called defusion)

I have a commitment to be mindful. I am training myself to notice where my attention is and to keep bringing it back to this minute now. This precious moment that will never return.

My definition of success has changed. Success now means living my values. Making moment to moment choices about the qualities I want to bring into a particular situation. (Rob has made a great list of values clarification exercises here). This shift changes everything. It means that in any moment I can move from being unsuccessful to successful.

For example, I value being authentic. So if I notice during a conversation that I am being inauthentic, I can choose what more authentic behaviour would look like in that situation and then in the very next moment, do it (which is sometimes incredibly scary!) and ‘Bam!’ I have just been successful. The interaction might go terribly or wonderfully but I have lived my values and that is my definition of success.

2 thoughts on “If You Knew You Would Succeed, You Could Enjoy The Journey

  1. I absolutely love your posts. I’ve been introduced to ACT several months ago and now I’m always on the lookout for more advice and a bit of further clarification. In case of this post, it’s as if you were reading my mind. This is THE sentence by which I’ve been living my whole life and only now, in the context of ACT, I notice that it’s really not that helpful.

    The only question I’d have for you is whether the change in your outlook that you describe here happened only once you had reached all your major milestones (e.g. finishing med school or seeing your children all grown up) or where there any other, but similar in magnitude, milestones that you approached already with this new mindset?

    I’m curious because I’ve noticed that in my case, once I do reach some milestone, it’s actually rather easy to say that “from now on I’ll enjoy the journey” – if there isn’t another milestone looming in the near future. Hence my question about your experience – and I’d very much appreciate your opinion!

  2. Hi Nikki, i am glad you found the post helpful. I am working on a big goal at the moment – writing a book. I am finding the ACT approach of judging success by living my values incredibly helpful for this. Statistically my book is very unlikely to ‘succeed’ – if I judge success by it becoming a best seller. But if I judge success through the lens of my values – am I writing authentically? Am i being curious and present as I write? Then, it is much easier to get the writing done. I hope that makes sense and is helpful.

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