Recently my family and I took a road trip to Chicago for vacation. While I definitely enjoyed seeing the sights of Chicago, what I enjoyed the most was the trip there and back. We took Route 66 for most of the journey and stopped multiple times along the way. My wife Shelley was in charge of the music and made sure to play a little something for everyone. We sang together, made jokes, and just had a terrific time.
For me, the journey is what it’s all about, not the destination.
How often do you hear people say something to the following?
I’ll be happy when:
- When I get my dream job?
- When I get a raise?
- When I find a better relationship?
These people are always looking for the next best thing before they can experience happiness.
John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” And I agree. If you’re always looking for something outside of yourself to make you feel happy, then you are guaranteed to miss the grand prize, life.
4 Steps to Enjoying the Journey of Life
Abraham Lincoln said, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
While this may sound simple enough, the truth is that many times we fail to make this decision. Instead, we often just wish and hope that somehow today will turn out to be a good one.
We say things like; someday, I would like to lose weight, save money, or start a business.
Even worse, we beat ourselves up over what we haven’t accomplished by saying, ‘I should...’
I should spend more time with the people I love, I should eat healthier, I should exercise more, and the list goes on and on.
The Latin root of the word decide means to “cut off.” So to make a real decision, you must cut yourself off from all other options.
You must eliminate the word should from your vocabulary and replace it with words that reflect initiative. Words like I am, and I will.
The first step to enjoying the journey of life more is to make the decision that from this moment forward, you will do everything within your personal power to make the most of whatever comes your way.
Don’t become too focused on the finish line. Life is a journey, not a race. You’ll get where you are going one day at a time.
“Don’t become too focused on the finish line. Life is a journey, not a race. You’ll get where you are going one day at a time.”
2. Be Fully Present
“The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle is a life changer.
If you haven’t read this, I highly recommend you do.
The reality of life is that all you have is what is right here, right now. If you are in the dangerous habit of projecting your thoughts into the future, then you are missing the present moment.
While it is important to plan for the future, it is also wasteful to over-plan for it or constantly worry about it. Keep your thoughts in the present and enjoy where you are.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by being grateful for every moment.
Wait. Every moment?
Yes, every moment, even the painful ones. Sometimes these are the most important and defining experiences of our lives.
I remember one time when I was younger. My wife Shelley and I were both working on our master’s degrees but at different colleges. I had dropped her off at her campus and then driven 30 minutes across town to mine.
When her class was over, she was going to take the bus back to where we had dropped her car off and then go pick up our kids before heading home.
Once I got across town, I looked down and noticed she had left her car and house keys in my car.
With my class about to start and Shelley’s just about to end, my stress began to rise. I barely had enough time to dash back across town to give her the keys before she got on the bus. (This was before we both had cell phones, so I couldn’t call her directly.)
Realizing that my stress was rising, I decided it was time to be proactive and use what I teach. So I asked myself a simple question, “What is great about this moment?”
“What’s great about this moment?”
After a few minutes of arguing with myself that nothing was great about it, I finally realized that what was great was that I had discovered her keys before she was released from class.
That would have been much worse because she would have been stranded, and the kids would not have been picked up from daycare.
I also realized I was going to be able to steal a kiss from my beautiful wife again (after all, I was the hero that saved the day.)
On top of that, it was a gorgeous day, so I would get to listen to my favorite music for a little longer while enjoying the sunshine.
So yes, be grateful for every moment. There is always something valuable to learn.
3. Be Fully Present
Driving in today’s traffic is already stressful enough as it is. But go and add the stress of being late and watch your enjoyment level plummet.
One of my favorite bumper stickers says, “I’m not in your hurry.”
By leaving earlier, you can give yourselves permission just to enjoy the journey.
You can use your commute time to listen to upbeat music, meditate on what’s great about life, or, better yet, practice being in the now by looking at the world around you.
The other day, my wife overheard a waitress apologize to a man for the delay in his order.
His reply was priceless. “That’s okay,” he explained, “if I were in a hurry, I would have left the house earlier.”
“That’s okay. If I were in a hurry I would have left the house earlier.”
Maybe we should all take his advice and leave earlier.
Leaving earlier isn’t really that difficult. It just takes a little planning the night before.
My wife sets her breakfast bowl and vitamins out so that when she walks into the kitchen, everything is ready to go. It may only save a few minutes, but it does lead to getting out the door earlier.
Plus, to save a little more time, she also sets out her clothes the night before and makes sure that her bag is ready as well.
Five to ten minutes doesn’t seem like a lot, but it definitely makes a difference once you hit the road and start dealing with traffic.
Ask yourself, “What can I do in advance to save myself time and frustration in the future?”
4. Take Time for Yourself
This one is self-explanatory, and we all know the importance of it, but many of us find ourselves ignoring it or putting our personal time off until everyone else is taken care of for the day. However, it is super crucial for you to find at least an hour for yourself.
I think the easiest way to find this hour is just to set your morning alarm back 60 minutes and then actually get out of bed at that time.
Easier said than done, I know, but this can be the best 60 minutes of your day.
Not only does this give you some personal time, but it also sets the tone for the rest of the day.
I believe in this one so much that my first book, Intentional Mornings, is all about creating extra time first thing in the morning to center yourself and do something you want to do. It’s how I found time to become a published author without sacrificing the other important areas of my life, like my family and health.
“Find time first thing in the morning to center yourself and do something you want to do.”
Finding time for yourself is powerful because once you begin to make yourself a priority in your own life, you often find yourself having more energy and focus for the other areas of your life.
So start today.
Schedule some time for yourself.
Do something you enjoy.
Renew yourself and start noticing how much better you feel.
There you have it, four ways to start enjoying the journey of life more.
First of all, decide that you are going to enjoy the journey.
Second, learn how to be fully present in all that you do. Remember, the only moment that is real is the present one, so learn to live in it.
Third, find a way to leave a little earlier. You’ll be amazed how much better your day goes when you’re not rushing to get somewhere. Besides, how can you be fully present when you are thinking about where you “should” be?
And fourth, take time for yourself. You’re not being selfish when you prioritize yourself. In fact, you’re being the opposite because if you really want to take care of others, then you have to learn to take care of yourself first.
What strategies do you use to get the most enjoyment out of your life journey?
If you are ready to take charge of your life and start living more intentionally, check out my book, Life by Intentions. It’s a step-by-step guide for creating a balanced life of purpose and passion.