People love destinations. To “arrive” somewhere is a glorious moment on a vacation or any trip one takes. In Hawaii, they celebrate your arrival with a lei and greet you with a warm smile when you step off the plane (or at least that’s what I’m told).
Unfortunately, people often miss the beauty of the journey that takes them to their destination.
When our family pulled up our Midwest roots and moved to the Pacific Northwest, we turned the trip into a mini-vacation, camping each night and stopping at famous landmarks along the way. We saw the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, climbed the huge rocks protruding from the ground at the Badlands and spent an afternoon walking around Mount Rushmore. The next day we stopped in Sundance, Wyoming to climb on the rocks at the base of Devil’s Tower (which two guys were scaling that day), and then drove across the state to Yellowstone National Park where we camped for two days. We drove within 15 feet of live Bison, hiked down two major waterfalls that were absolutely breathtaking and had several deer walk within 30 feet of our campsite.
We drove through Montana on the 4th of July and at one point found ourselves on a parade route as passer-bys lined the streets for the floats behind us. We saw the beauty of Lake Couer d’Alene in Idaho and then drove down the magnificent Columbia River Gorge into Portland.
When we arrived at our new apartment, we unloaded the truck, settled in for the night and then headed out to the coast the next day for some fun at the beach. Although it was great to finally “arrive” in our new hometown, what we remember most is the trip out here.
Ever since the day we set foot in Oregon, my wife and I have made it a point to plan exciting little adventures for our family to continue to make memories, realizing that life is one continual journey with only one true destination: death.
This is where most of us miss the mark. We often think thoughts like, “When I arrive in business I’ll be happy” or “When I lose this much weight I’ll…” or “When I make this much money, then I’ll…”. These kinds of thoughts imply an end goal that will satisfy and last, when the truth is all aspects of life are a never-ending process, and we are either moving towards an optimal state or towards a detrimental state in each category of life.
Take health, for example. Once a person reaches their ideal weight, life doesn’t end. Food doesn’t go away. Although reaching an ideal weight is a great accomplishment, it’s not the end goal. It’s one step on a lifelong journey towards optimal health.
Or take finances. When has a person arrived financially? It’s probably a different number for everyone, but life doesn’t end simply because a person reaches the financial goal he’s set for himself. Problems continue to happen, people will get sick, kids will still want to eat, and transmissions will go out. The wise person continually builds his financial house to provide for his family and his future.
The truth is the only time a person “arrives” in life is when she realizes that life is a never-ending journey in which a daily pursuit of excellence in all aspects of life will be most enjoyable, most fulfilling and most satisfying. Excellence in the way we treat people, excellence in our diet and exercise program. Excellence in our parenting and in making and sticking to a monthly budget. Excellence in everything we do that moves us closer towards optimal health in every area of our lives.
As Aristotle is credited with saying, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
You are living out one big journey, so make the choice today to focus on the journey, not the destination, and pursue excellence each day you have on this amazingly wonderful adventure called life.