🕐 4 minute read
They say it’s about the journey, not the destination. Too often, we get caught up solely in great accomplishments and fail to embrace the journey or process, that is required to arrive there. I am reminded of the ancient parable of the Chinese bamboo tree. In the first four years of its lifespan, there is no sign of growth or activity. It’s seed simply lies underground preparing for its future. All that time, it requires water and the appropriate temperature to develop an extensive root system. In its fifth year, it breaks the Earth and grows to towering and impressive heights in just weeks!
‘That is the bamboo tree’s maturation process, and it isn’t that different from ours. It requires care, persistence and faith that the work it is putting in now will be the foundation of its impressive future. I’ll personify it by saying that it didn’t grow impatient when tangible results didn’t come immediately. Rather, it was committed to it’s process.
We can learn a tremendous amount from this parable and it all starts with one basic tenant. We must be committed to the process required to reach our fullest potential. By changing our understanding of the process and thoughtfully executing it, we can truly enjoy the ride. Below is my advice on how to accomplish that.
Create A Plan
To achieve anything noteworthy, you must have a plan. In the business world, you may call it a “Strategic Plan”. This is a document that is used to communicate an organization’s goals along with actions required to achieve them. Without it, energy and resources are wasted and the expected results are rarely accomplished.
Start with longer-term goals and then narrow them down. For example, the goal of wanting to play Division I basketball is quite ambitious. However, it is attainable with a plan. The statistics show that based on the number of male high school basketball participants, there is a 1.0% chance of playing at the DI level. For women, 1.2%. A daunting statistic, but the right approach will increase your chances.
Narrow that focus by identifying a shorter-term goal such as making your high school team or a competitive AAU team. Well, how do you accomplish that? A good starting place is to take an honest look at your game and identify where you can improve. One common area that most players can always improve is field goal percentage by becoming a better shooter. Perfect – you just made it your summer goal to improve your jump shooting. Now, we need to create a process to accomplish that and it’s up to you to commit to it.
Write It Down
Research suggests that people who take the time to actually write down their goals are more likely to achieve them than those who don’t. Too often, athletes think that hard work is the only requirement for improvement. While the “keep-my-head-down-and-grind” mentality is well intended, it generally leads to thoughtless workouts and suboptimal results.
Now that we know our goal this summer is to improve our jump shooting, create a daily workout chart to plan out your shooting workouts. This is the equivalent of your basketball “Strategic Plan”. One suggestion is to pick a number of shots you will make from specific spots on the court. Too often, young players aimlessly spend hours in a gym chucking up shots from all over the place with little thought put into what they are trying to accomplish.
Instead, say that in week one, you are going to make 100 mid-range jumpers from each elbow, every day. Maybe this only takes you 30 minutes, but that efficient 30-minute workout has put you significantly closer to your goal than 2 hours of unfocused shooting. Documenting attempts and even adding observations of how you felt now gives you a tangible way to track progress and can bring your vision to reality. Hang that in your room and it will serve as a daily reminder. Next week, pick another spot.
You took the first step, but the journey to your goals may, and likely will require hundreds or thousands more. Most worthwhile endeavors aren’t easy and you can’t take a ‘one foot in, one foot out’ approach. The process is your roadmap to success, but it’s very easy to take your foot off the gas pedal and watch others pass you.
Make a decision to fully invest in it knowing that it will be worthwhile in the long run. Sometimes, we set goals that we don’t ever reach but during the process, we open new doors or learn something about ourselves that leads to a better outcome. The only way to find out is to see it through.
“Most importantly, don’t wait for the end result, find joy in the process.“
Trust and Embrace The Process
At this point, most of us have heard the saying “trust the process”. Admittedly, it is a little overhyped, but it is some of the best advice I can share with you.
If you wake up every day dreading your workout or having negative thoughts that things haven’t come to fruition the way you envisioned them, you will grow to resent the process. The first reality that you need to accept is that there will be good days and there will be bad days. There will be times when you find your hands on your knees, drenched in sweat where you question whether it is worth it. I have good news, you are getting closer to where you want to be.
It is the days spent pushing past your comfort zone when true progress is made. Remain patient and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Develop a mindset of hopeful expectation grounded in humility. Never forget that everything is earned and the process is the means to accomplish your dreams. A well thought out plan, consistently applied, will take you to heights you may have never even dreamed.
Enjoy The Journey
Most importantly, don’t wait for the end result, find joy in the process. Don’t let your happiness be contingent upon a certain event occurring. As I said earlier, the journey is far more important than the destination. If you constantly say you will be satisfied when X happens, or you will be happy when you reach Y, you are going to lose out on a lot of life.
Love what you do, stay present, understand the underlying reason behind your process and make it fun. With that attitude and approach, the possibilities are infinite.