365 Days of Courage #102: "When you fall in love with the process rather than the product ..."

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This quote sums up beautifully why it's so important to "forget the noun and do the verb" (which I talked about earlier in the week).

When we "fall in love with the process rather than the product" we can take our happiness off hold. We're not waiting for some moment in the future to arrive before we can be happy or satisfied or fulfilled. We can be happy right here in this moment as we do the verb and forget the noun.

The book "Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones" by James Clear is next on my to-read list. I've already implemented advice from the book from interviews I've heard with the author. Advice that has already changed my life for the better.

Click here to listen to a fantastic episode of the Unmistakable Creative podcast when Srini Rao interviewed James Clear about the Atomic Habits book.

In his newsletter yesterday, James Clear included an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the book. The title of the newsletter was "Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead." He opens the newsletter with:

Prevailing wisdom claims that the best way to achieve what we want in life—getting into better shape, building a successful business, relaxing more and worrying less, spending more time with friends and family—is to set specific, actionable goals.

For many years, this was how I approached my habits too. Each one was a goal to be reached. I set goals for the grades I wanted to get in school, for the weights I wanted to lift in the gym, for the profits I wanted to earn in business. I succeeded at a few, but I failed at a lot of them. Eventually, I began to realize that my results had very little to do with the goals I set and nearly everything to do with the systems I followed.
— "Forget About the Goals, Focus on This Instead"

He says that goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. Problems arise when we spend too much time thinking about our goals and not enough time designing our systems.

I have written more this year since implementing a system of writing daily when I first sit down at my desk and posting that writing on my blog, on Instagram and Facebook than I did in the previous 5 years when I've had a goal of writing a book but no system in place to, well, actually write on a consistent basis.

The 50+ posts that I have written this year are a huge step towards writing that book but, more importantly than that, I have fallen in love with sitting down at my desk each morning and writing. I'm happier when I write regularly than when I don't.

The implicit assumption behind any goal is this: “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy.” The problem with a goals-first mentality is that you’re continually putting happiness off until the next milestone. I’ve slipped into this trap so many times I’ve lost count. For years, happiness was always something for my future self to enjoy. I promised myself that once I gained twenty pounds of muscle or after my business was featured in the New York Times, then I could finally relax.

Furthermore, goals create an “either-or” conflict: either you achieve your goal and are successful or you fail and you are a disappointment. You mentally box yourself into a narrow version of happiness. This is misguided. It is unlikely that your actual path through life will match the exact journey you had in mind when you set out. It makes no sense to restrict your satisfaction to one scenario when there are many paths to success.

A systems-first mentality provides the antidote. When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running. And a system can be successful in many different forms, not just the one you first envision.
— "Forget About Goals, Focus on This Instead"

The reason I started The Midlife Courage Project is because I could see in my own life and in friends and clients’ lives that SO many of us are putting our happiness on hold. We are deferring pleasure and joy until some point - often some point that may never arrive - in the future.

What a heartbreaking waste of our precious time here on earth.

I am learning and truly understanding more and more each day that I have mastered some truly awful habits over the past few decades. Habits that sabotage rather than support me in living my happiest and most fulfilling life.

That is why I love what James Clear says about habits. Slowly but surely we can do the two-leveled work of not only breaking bad habits BUT ALSO implementing good habits. Habits that build a daily system that allows us to enjoy our life now.

As Brene Brown so beautifully says about “midlife”:

I think midlife is when the Universe gently places her hand upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. It’s time.
— Brene Brown

It’s time.

Are you ready to give yourself permission to be happy right here, right now?

I would love to hear from you if you have read “Atomic Habits”. How has changing your habits transformed your life?

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