Which do you find more important: achieving a desired goal or the journey on the way to the destination?
I used to fall into the “make it to the finish line no matter what” category. But, that path is miserable. It includes struggle and the belief that you must work hard to achieve success.
During my first life flip – from nonworking wife in a failing marriage who lost a baby I wasn’t meant to conceive – to university professor, I made life harder than it had to be by resisting its inevitable call to change. I found myself running away from a broken life with the belief that nothing worth achieving happens without sweat and tears along the way.
But, what if you could experience joy along your journey instead of hardship? What if you believed that your path is there to equip you with the skills and opportunities you need to evolve toward living your life’s purpose instead of something to trudge through to get to the good stuff?
I finally discovered this easier route during life flip #2. I began meditating in 2013 and realized that my purpose in life is to use my art – my life-long love that had become a forgotten part-time hobby – to inspire others to follow their own unique life’s calling. I loved teaching my university students, but I knew that becoming a professor was a means to thrive after divorce, not the ultimate calling for my life.
So, I took a blind leap of faith and resigned from my 12-year, tenured position to follow my bliss of art. Instead of escaping from a broken life, this time I was running toward the joy of living on purpose.
That’s when I perceived that traveling the road toward fulfilling my purpose is the sweet spot. The end result is actually still a little fuzzy around the edges. But the excitement of learning who I am meant to be along this path has kindled insights that working with my nose to the grindstone did not allow me to observe.
Here are three lessons that have taught me that feeling joy along the journey is more important than achieving the final destination.
1. Surrendering to the Universe’s flow makes you stronger, not weaker.
I’ve always been told: “Ask, believe, receive.” The problem is, sometimes what I ask for may not be in my best interest. So, no matter how much I believe it needs to happen, sometimes what I ask for and believe in receives the answer of no. This can be disappointing, but if I stop the pity party, I realize I don’t have the power to see into the future. Thank goodness the Universe has got my back!
Let’s add one element: “Ask, believe, surrender, receive.” Living on purpose means that you must surrender to a path that you can’t fully see. Life is like shaking a Polaroid photo – you only get one glimpse of the next right step at a time. The end result is sometimes blurry and hidden. But, the Universe may be guiding you toward a better path, helping you avoid a disaster you couldn’t perceive, or teaching you a lesson you needed to learn before advancing to the next step of your journey. When you allow yourself to surrender and co-create with the Universe, it’s a powerful combination that generates great insight and joy.
2. Being is more important than a constant stream of determined doing.
This lesson has been a tough one for me to learn because it’s counterproductive to what my parents and teachers taught.
Being doesn’t mean giving up and not taking any action. It means you allow yourself to be aligned with the Universe’s inspiration through meditation, communing with nature, or taking a moment to become still each day. This allows you to tap into your higher self so you can perceive the inspired actions the Universe is guiding you to take. Tapping into this flow allows you to achieve results more easily with fewer, yet more effective actions rather than numerous hit-or-miss actions, which leads to more joy and less struggle along your journey.
3. Believing that you’re not alone boosts your confidence.
Joseph Campbell, who coined the Hero’s Journey, said he perceived “invisible hands” that began opening new doors when he agreed to follow his bliss. I’ve found this to be true as I’ve begun to live my purpose. At just the perfect moment when I need guidance, a person, light bulb moment, or opportunity crosses my path that takes me to the next level of my journey.
The Universe will conspire to help you when you commit to following your purpose too, which increases your confidence and ignites true joy.
So, what’s your choice: joyful journey or determined destination?