How To Stay Hungry For Your Goals: But Enjoy The Journey!

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Does getting full of what you are after make you bloated and slow? By contrast does being “hungry” for something make you get up early and stay up late focused on the prize?

Did you ever discover a new band, one who had been starving for years trying to “make it” – then put out a killer album, won lots of fans, and became a huge success? Then…. started putting out not so great albums….

It does seem that getting what you want can actually lead to a lack of hunger or drive and consequently a diminished quality of what you do. We see it in business when a company has been successful for a few years and gets overrun with middle management. They lose that innovative spirit that got them to where they are, and next thing you know here comes a “hungry” startup that is taking their business. Time to re-tool. Downsize. Get hungry again. We see it with the government as common sense seems to get bogged down in red tape. We see it in ourselves, when things are going great we tend to get complacent. We most likely have seen it repeatedly after a Thanksgiving dinner! Full = loss of motivation and drive.

How can we avoid this trap? After all if we accomplish something, we should be allowed to take a little time to celebrate right? Enjoy the fruits of our labor as it were. Yes… but… maybe it is a matter of what we are focused on in the first place.

“Life is a journey and not a destination”

I see it many times on hikes and trips that ‘getting there is half the fun’.  So maybe it is a matter of balancing our focus on “the goal” with an awareness and appreciation of all that is happening on the journey. That way when a goal is reached, it will be more fulfilling and rewarding due to the experiences gained and enjoyed along the way. Instead of the Hungry-Full-Hungry-Full endless cycle…. Balance.

We live in a world where setting goals and striving for greatness is touted daily. But sometimes we get so caught up in getting to the goal that we are not enjoying the process. Then we reach the goal, or get “full” and find out that we are not as happy as we had thought we would be. We’ve all seen stories of someone who set out to make a lot of money, but then after they achieved that goal, ended up miserable and distraught. So apparently the goal of the money and that “fullness” didn’t seem to satisfy.

We can balance the onward and upward mentality with a little of life’s simple pleasures just by being more aware of things as they happen. Take time to watch the butterfly in the yard, or say hello to your elderly neighbor. Give a compliment to the girl at the convenience store as she gives you your change.

It is little things that add up to big things. So if our “hunger” is more about life and the journey than just the prize at the end of our goals list, maybe we can keep that drive to enjoy life along the path!

That is where “Live Interestingly” comes into play. Not “Drudge along every day until you get to the goal and THEN you get to live interestingly”….. Nope. You choose to “Live Interestingly” every single day. You can’t always choose your circumstances but you CAN choose how you respond to those circumstances. Enjoying every step on the road to your goal is the key in not letting the hunger be your only driving force.

I see this in a couple areas of my life. When I am training my Frisbee dogs for an upcoming competition, it is easy to just focus on the quality of performance and how well I am throwing and if the dogs are in the right place etc. But if I ONLY think of the outcome it is easy to miss the enjoyment of just walking through the park out to the practice field and watching my dogs having fun along the way. If I make the session a broader goal about having fun with my dogs and enjoying their company, it is a win-win.

Likewise if I am practicing my guitar playing, it is easy to just know that if I play this piece of music X amount of times I will get to the goal which is being able to play it well. However, if it is a beautiful song it makes sense to enjoy it every time I play it on the journey! As Mac Davis sang “You gotta stop, and smell the roses”. So putting a little extra time into noticing the beauty of the arrangement, the sounds of the intervals as they cascade into each other, the melody as it twists and turns, the strings as they ring out together and vibrate uniquely with each touch – those are the things that make the process of “practicing” enjoyable. Just racing towards the goal of playing it right eventually leads to burnout when I get there.

So does “Staying Hungry” work? Absolutely. Retain the ‘fullness’ of achieving your goal and keep it from becoming a negative, by broadening  your vision along the way and taking in more of the journey. We can keep the “hungry” drive, but at the same time balance that with a genuine enjoyment of life. That way if we lose a little drive after reaching a goal, we still have the hunger for the journey and discovery and experiences that we encounter every day regardless of where we are heading!

  • barb500

    If there is one thing I have learned in the last 5 years…coincidentally since I’ve known you…is that a life lived isn’t always wonderful or perfect or even pleasant. But when you add up the days that you get to spend laughing with your children, playing with your dogs, admiring art or music or a person who has influenced you in some way…then there are far more pluses than minuses. And even on my worst day, I still have relatively healthy body ( I could stand to lose a few pounds) I have my children 26 days of every single month and before the last 5 years every day. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to be a mom and for them to allow me to make mistakes but to share life with me has been the greatest gift of all. Tonight my daughter and I sat outside and talked for 2 hours. We watched a huge bird rest on a limb but couldn’t quite figure out what bird it was…I thought it was an owl, my daughter thought it was a buzzard. I think we were both wrong but the 2 hours of conversation, erased any doubt it was a bird of paradise, and a gift to me and to my daughter. Thanks Jeff, you are an amazing friend and teacher to my son.