The other night, I sat in bed reading through pages containing goals and thoughts I’d intentionally set and written down at the start of this year.
While I keep these dreams tucked into my computer sleeve, it had been awhile since I’d read through them. Since I wrote them over several days at the start of the year, I know them fairly well. However, in reading them anew, I was struck by the language tied to each goal — and the way I’d envisioned this year overall. There’s not one word or phrase that stands out. It’s more the combination of all of them together. In reading them with fresh eyes — and a fresh perspective of a me who’s lived six months since I wrote those goals — I saw a lot of naivety in the Emily I was at the start of the year.
My dreams still hold true. What’s changed is that I’m less focused on the outcome and perhaps more focused on the process. I know the process is part of tackling each dream. I knew that when I wrote those goals. In writing the goals, I wrote about why each was important and what it would take to see it through, and while I spent time answering those questions for each goal, I think I failed to see just how important those questions and their answers were.
In tackling your goals, you have to love the process — almost more than the end goal itself.
This isn’t an original idea. Gary Vaynerchuk speaks to this often. You have to be in love with putting in the work. Gary says, “The truth is, I just love the climb. I love the sweat, the long hours, the uncertainties, and the grind. Nothing in life comes easy, and when we’re dealing with something as huge as a lifetime goal, it’s likely that things will change throughout that journey — but that’s okay. It’s part of the process. And that process is what I love so much.”
For me, I see that in my storytelling. Whether it’s telling stories through writing or video, I genuinely love the process of taking a story I’m passionate about, a story I believe in deeply and making it come to life. I see that in the stories I’m eager to tell and share here in Patagonia. I see that in the documentary I’m working on about a female mountain guide in Nepal. I love the process of connecting with people, getting to know them, hearing their stories and then crafting those stories with the best words in the best order — and collaborating with other creatives to make that happen.
The publication or means of distribution is important because I want those stories to be read, seen, heard beyond my personal network. But the story itself and the process of telling it is what I truly love. When I step back and remember these things — when I step back and remember why I’ve chosen this career path — it makes the days and weeks a whole lot richer, regardless of how much money is coming in.
In one form or another, I think the question of “making it” or having one defining breakthrough moment strikes all of us at times. I think our culture and the Internet increasingly perpetuate that toxic type of thinking. We tend to celebrate where people are, which is usually at their peak or their most successful point, and we fail to realize everything that went into getting them there. No one is an “overnight success.”
The magic, the truth, is in the journey. We don’t build the lives we dream of overnight. We build the lives we dream of over time.
I know this. Yet it’s so easy to get caught up in the end goal, what we think “success” will look like. We’re all in process. Constantly. So we should make sure we enjoy that process as well, right?
I don’t think there’s ever a moment of “making it” or breaking through. Sure, it’s important to celebrate our victories big and small, but I think most people are discontent with climbing a mountain and staying up there. No, you go down and continue working to climb other mountains. Some higher. Some smaller.
I don’t know what the moral of this story is. Perhaps it’s this: if you’re in the thick of it and feeling discouraged, remind yourself why you started in the first place. What do you love about the process? Focus on that, and keep going. Fall in love with the process of creating something more than the end result. Don’t lose sight of that end goal, but don’t be so focused on it that you fail to appreciate where you are.