Hey! Zach here. If it’s your first time on the site, welcome! If you’ve been here before, glad to have you back!
I’ve got a great read for you – The Journey is the Prize.
Because it’s so easy to get fixated on reaching the mountain top, we often forget the climb itself is responsible for any transformation that occurs. Understanding and embracing this concept will revamp your state of mind while you improve your health & fitness.
I truly believe achieving anything worthwhile does not come easy and will take time. After all, if mountains were smooth, you wouldn’t be able to climb them.
But at the same, I realize that the day-to-day process and overall grind from afar can seem kind of, well, meh. As humans, we want the Lamborghini, the mansion, the six-pack abs – we want outcomes. You do, I do, everyone does.
And that’s fine.
Here’s what is not fine – believing such end goals are the actual prize.
In this article, I will outline why the journey itself provides the most value along with some ways you can embrace this idea to maximize your experiences and their lasting effects!
Hopefully, after reading, you’re able to widen your perspective and view your health & fitness journey as far more than just a means to an end.
Let’s jump into it!
The journey sharpens you as a person
Back in 2017, during his jersey retirement speech, the late, great Kobe Bryant spoke directly to his daughters: “those times when you get up early and you work hard; those times when you stay up late and you work hard; those times when you don’t feel like working – you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself – but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream. That’s the dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”
Kobe lived these words. And yes – it helped him become one of the greatest to ever do it on the court, but more importantly, it transformed who he was. This mantra is what made him a global icon.
Any arduous journey you embark on in life will require some area of growth. For instance, when achieving your fitness goal – e.g. becoming lean and staying lean – you’ll need to be patient, knowledgeable, and trusting in regards to the process.
But once you achieve your desired look – and do so in a manner that still allows you to live your life to the fullest – the way you view yourself (i.e. what you believe you’re capable of, and what you expect from yourself moving forward) is completely transformed.
Achieving any specific fitness goal, when approached correctly, goes far beyond looking good in the mirror. It involves becoming the best version of you in all aspects. Your newly developed attributes (such as sticking to your word, practicing patience, trusting the process, etc.) become part of you – and they will stick with you as you begin new ventures.
This, in my opinion, is pretty damn valuable.
The journey dictates a sustainable future
To piggyback on becoming a better version of you, focusing on the journey rather than the initially-formulated destination allows you to create sustainability with ease.
Here’s what I mean: embracing the journey means keeping the task at hand at the forefront of your mind, always aiming to put your best foot forward. By doing this over and over, you will learn a whole lot about yourself, and what it takes to truly succeed day in and day out throughout your difficult trek.
You won’t be looking for the best market to buy a fish. Nope. You'll be looking for a rod so you can learn how to fish.
You will aim to create amazing results, and understand how you achieved them by increasing knowledge of the process itself.
Take someone who tries multiple fad diets to lose weight. In 99% of these increasingly common cases, this person will have very little knowledge about the subject matter at hand (nutrition).
This lack of knowledge coupled with the basis of most fad diets (relying purely on restricting what you can and can’t eat) is why most people fail to reach their goals this way. And those who do struggle to sustain such results over the long haul.
Or let’s take someone who is severely overweight and decides to forgo an organic path to become healthier, instead opting for weight loss surgery.
As you can imagine, someone who takes this route is far less likely to create long-lasting results; many people who elect for surgery gain their weight back (depending on the type of surgery itself).
Because zero learning occurred. No new habits were formed. Their relationship with food and exercise likely stayed the same.
Aside from the number on the scale and the reflection in the mirror – nothing has changed about them.
This leads me to the next area of discussion.
The journey, not the destination, provides true fulfillment
If you had to guess…
Who would feel more fulfilled after losing weight: someone who just had surgery or someone who naturally lost a bunch of weight?
Now let me ask you this: why do you think it feels so good to reach a goal, to finally get to the mountain top?
It’s because we’re able to look back on our journey. The small victories, sure. But, more importantly, the immense challenges we faced. The setbacks. The doubt in our heads. And how we eventually overcame all of it to win.
Without having these experiences to reflect on, and being able to think “damn, I look great. But, holy shit. I’ve grown so much. It’s insane thinking about what I’ve gone through to get here”, it’s difficult to experience fulfillment to a great extent.
The same goes for someone who inherits a fortune versus someone who builds an empire themselves. Obviously, money doesn’t buy happiness – what isn’t mentioned enough is why exactly that is.
The formula for fulfillment is as follows: not escaping or maneuvering around problems and dilemmas, but rather, looking at them straight in the face, and solving them.
One of my favorite authors, Mark Manson, made this clear to me in his book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck: “the secret sauce is in the solving of the problems, not in not having problems in the first place.”
Life will always present problems. But, it’s having good problems – ones that requires you to improve overall well-being and/or experience some level of growth to solve them – that allows you to experience fulfillment at an all-time high.
Wanting to improve your health & fitness is a damn good problem to have.
Once you acknowledge that, you will begin to look at the desired end product as nothing more than a byproduct of the journey itself.
3 ways to maximize your journey
1. Ask yourself why
As I’ve alluded to previously, achieving anything significant will present discomfort and challenges. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge this and mentally equip yourself before your journey begins.
This is where your why comes in to play – your ultimate motivation for reaching your health and fitness goals.
Here’s where many people mess up though: focusing purely on surface-level motivations (e.g. looking good for a wedding or event, or simply feeling healthier).
Of course, you want to look good, be healthier, etc.
Go deeper. Ask yourself: how will improving your health & fitness change you intrinsically? How will it allow you to impact others positively? What will it mean for you moving forward?
With a powerful why, no challenge or amount of discomfort will stop you.
2. Focus on behaviors over outcomes
I mentioned in the introduction that as humans, we’re very caught up in the destination, the outcome of the journey. While tracking your progress, sometimes it can be difficult to not see your desired results (e.g. losing “x” amount of weight) come to fruition yet.
To avoid getting caught up in these thoughts, focus on behaviors, not outcomes.
Focus on what is in front of you – your daily actions. And use those as a way to determine whether you’re making progress or not.
For instance, instead of worrying about the number on the scale (which you have no direct control over due to all the variables that affect readings), start focusing on what you do.
This could be eating more veggies, drinking more water, or having a greater awareness of your portion sizes or calorie intake.
This way, you know you’re getting better. You know you’re improving. You know you’re taking the right steps towards reaching certain outcomes.
By sticking to this approach, your desired results will come much quicker.
3. Develop a growth mindset
By this I mean – don’t just power through difficult situations that are presented to you without any intention to analyze them.
Treat your struggles as feedback. Learn from them. Understand why they were difficult.
Use your newly acquired knowledge to grow.
Essentially, you want to treat your mind like a muscle, constantly challenging it to think critically and fully comprehend the situation at hand.
Similar challenges will become easier and easier because you’ll have this knowledge and experience to fall back on.
In a nutshell, the journey provides the backbone required for any specific outcome to live up to its standards. Without a meaningful journey, you’re missing out on immense personal growth, creating a foundation for a sustainable future, and maximizing fulfillment. Remember, mountains aren’t smooth for a reason – you’re supposed to endure hardships and setbacks. To get the most out of your journey, dissect why you’re doing what you’re doing, prioritize your behaviors over outcomes, and constantly look for ways to gather feedback and grow. By implementing these strategies, you will learn rather quickly that the journey, not the destination, is indeed the real prize.
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