Savor the Journey on the Way to Outcomes

by Tommy Leung on June 20th, 2018

I used to love buying things. Technically, I still do. But not in the same way.

The act of shopping comes with a rush of good feelings.

That’s how I got into financial trouble as young adult. I was buying things I didn’t need with money I didn’t have because it felt good.

Like a drug.

I learned the hard way. I had more debt than I could service. Angry letters arrived in the mail. Credit cards were closed. Collectors started calling.

It was eat or pay the bills.

"Life is a journey that must be traveled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations."

- Oliver Goldsmith

I got through it because there was no other option. Life keeps marching on whether you like it or not. Your job is to survive to the next day as best as you can.

Overcoming that struggle has made me more aware of what I buy. How I spend my money. You can always spend all the money you have. There’s always something to buy.

But the most important lesson is that the journey is more rewarding than the destination. You‘ve almost certainly heard that saying before.

It is commonly said but not commonly understood.

Many of us live our lives going from destination to destination. Marking our lives by the destinations. A promotion, vacation, anniversary, etc.

But those markers are tiny blips in the experience of life. It is in all the space between markers that life is lived.

Those celebratory events are also rarely as exciting as the lead up to it. Much like shopping.

The time spent looking at the products. Comparing them. Deciding which to buy and imagining the benefits the product will provide you. That’s where the good feelings are.

You almost never feel as good after buying the product. You may enjoy it and it may be beneficial. But the anticipation of having the product is more exciting than actually owning it.

"Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it."

- Greg Anderson

There’s the conventional wisdom of working for 40 years so that you can enjoy your life in retirement. Retirement is the destination where all the great things are.

So you barrel through 40 years in anticipation of this mythical retirement phase of your life where you can drink margaritas on the beach all day.

But, in reality, how many margaritas can you drink?

The first one on the beach will be great. The second one less great. The third one even less so. Each margarita is less enjoyable than the last and makes your next day worse and worse.

Life can only be lived with the good and the bad. With the celebrations and the struggles. There is, ironically, almost no point to life without the struggles.

Life is solving problem after problem with celebrations of successful solutions sprinkled along the way.

The celebrations are the destinations. And they make up a tiny portion of the journey we call life.

Enjoy the destinations but also remember to savor the journey. It is where most of life is lived.

"Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome."

- Arthur Ashe