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  Jane Miller


Articles -- Enjoying the journey

When I was a child, I had a recurring dream in which I was leaping from the top of one pillar to another and each pillar started to fall the moment I landed on it, so I had to keep leaping.

As an adult, this is the way I've lived my life - leaping from one accomplishment to another - degrees, accreditations, a variety of careers. My mother used to say it made her tired just listening to me, because I was always pursuing new challenges.

But it struck me one day when I was saying to her, "I can't wait 'til I finish this program and get my certification" and she said, "Don't wish your life away!" She was so right! I was failing to enjoy the journey.

I also realized how different my husband's attitude is! To him, life is a 'walk in the woods'. He truly enjoys the moment. When we went to England to do our PhD's, I was always working hard and focused on the goal, while he simply enjoyed the process itself. To him, the goal was incidental but not that important. He was simply enjoying the research he was involved in.

This difference in attitude was even more evident when we returned from England and searched for employment. For six months, I was frantic and impatient, while my husband enjoyed our little 'vacation'. He said "Relax and enjoy this time. Before you know it, we'll be back in the grind, with very little time off."

We have both accomplished many things in our lives, but I lived in a state of "gotta get THERE" and he lived in the state "Isn't THIS amazing!"

So many people live all their lives, waiting for the future. You hear them say "when I graduate...", "when I have a family...", "when the kids are grown up...", "when I retire...". Life happens but we're not there.

Here are five steps that may help you to live and enjoy life fully in the present:

  1. Take responsibility for where you are now. Some people say, "Well I have to provide for my children", but you decided to have children and you did that for a reason! So your next choice is to decide HOW to provide for them. No matter what limiting beliefs you have, you DO have choices about where to go next.

  2. Set your next goal, creatively finding a way to achieve a joyful life, while fulfilling your responsibilities. This requires: introspection (to find what makes your heart sing), research (to investigate the possibilities) and courageous leaps of imagination (to overcome limiting beliefs about what is possible).

  3. Focus on the moment and savor the journey. As my mother said, "Don't wish your life away". Appreciate what you have now and find the joy in every moment. If your children are little, take a moment to appreciate them, because when they grow up and leave home, you will miss these times. So don't miss it now!

  4. Welcome challenges and failures as skill-building opportunities. Challenges help us to get creative. Sometimes you will seek out a mentor. These experiences will also help you to become a mentor to others. All the best teachers tell us about their challenges and failures because these were the times when they learned the most.

  5. Remain flexible. If at some point, you feel that this is not the direction you want to go, allow yourself to reconsider and modify your goal to something that truly inspires and energizes you. I have changed careers many times in my life and everyone thought I was crazy, but what others think does not matter - as long as you follow your heart, you can never go wrong.

"Enjoying the journey" does not mean "not planning". It means planning with both your heart and your mind and then immersing yourself in the journey with all your heart, learning and changing direction as you go, accepting all the ups and downs and always moving in the direction of your joy.

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