When you sit back and think about your life, what has been driving you forward? Is it something you have chosen? Is it society’s system? And do you wish it was any different?
Recently I had a discussion with a friend about the impact of the education system and a world where results and achievements are considered the “be all and end all”. We live in a society, particularly as we are growing up, where we are constantly taught to think about the end result – the grade, the next school and the move to college, university or work. We are looking ahead because we are told that’s how we make a life for ourselves. But what about our life in the present moment?
In my opinion, the education system never placed enough emphasis on learning for learning’s sake. It felt like every piece of content thrown our way was there to simply learn and regurgitate. And yes, many of us did enjoy certain aspects of school, perhaps because we found our own way to find meaning in what was given to us. However, why not teach children how to find that meaning? Instead of driving end results that tear down those who haven’t yet found their passion, why not teach them how to enjoy the ride?
The problem with focusing too much on the end result, such as achieving a grade or securing a job, is that the moment is fleeting. The emotions associated with success and fulfillment don’t last forever, because if we tie our self-worth to one single end goal, what will we then be without it? As much as an end result or goal may motivate us to get up in the morning and do what we need to do to succeed, it teaches us that there is nothing else out there for us if we can’t do it – or even if we can. Why work solely towards something that is impermanent – an end result simply for achievements sake? Why not appreciate a journey that is filled with permanent meaning, regardless of the outcome?
I think it’s interesting to ask others what they believe is more important: The journey or the result. It’s interesting because I think most people would say journey, but whether this reflects in their lives is a whole different matter. Do we really appreciate the journey if we let failure destroy our sense of self? Do we really appreciate the journey if we are getting impatient towards our goals? It is easy to forget that the present moment is often valuable in itself. As much as the future holds meaning and value for many of us, it doesn’t exist yet. It is only what we do now, in the present, that even makes it an eventual reality.
So, next time you find yourself working towards an end result, take a step back and reflect on your emotions. Are you placing too much of your sense of self in the outcome, or do you know you are valuable, regardless? Are you getting agitated at the steps you need to reach a goal, or are you feeling gratitude towards what you are learning along the way?
We all get wrapped up in results – it’s inevitable. In many ways, results is what keeps the world moving. But we must remember to detach our self-worth from it. We are more than what we have to show.
What matters more to you: the journey or the result?
I would love to hear your perspective on this topic in the comments.