Achievement is not always success, while reputed failure often is. It [achievement] is honest endeavor, persistent effort to do the best possible under any and all circumstances Orison Swett Marden

Growing up, I was addicted to outcomes. As a hockey player I can remember my happiness in life being dependent on the amount of goals I scored and the wins or losses my team had on the weekends. If I scored a goal and we won, I was flying high, but if I went goalless and my team lost, I was not a fun person to be around.

As I matured and transitioned into adulthood, I realized that, throughout life, and sometimes through no fault of your own, you’re going to experience a lot of “losses”. These “losses” can be in the workplace, in your love life, or any other facet of life you can think of. That’s not to say that you won’t experience an abundance of wins either.

The takeaway is this:

If we go through life with our happiness and self-worth dependent on outcomes rather than the process, we are setting ourselves up for periods of unavoidable unhappiness.

Conversely, when you invest in the process, you are focusing on the elements of life that you can control. Investing in the process encourages you to think about your individual efforts, motivations, and practices. Looking through this lens, legendary coach John Wooden’s definition of success makes a lot of sense:

“Peace of mind, attained only through self-satisfaction and knowing you made the effort to do the best that you are capable.”

It’s as simple as that. He mentions nothing about wins or losses, pounds lost, or money made. Investing in the process is a superior operational methodology for two reasons:

#1 Failure and disappointment are impossible

One of the largest sources of unhappiness in people’s lives is their failure to meet some self-manifested expectation. When you are no longer dependent on outcomes, you become impervious to unhappiness incurred from unmet expectations. Your perspective shifts. Failure no longer becomes something to be feared or avoided, but rather something to be embraced as constructive feedback.

External circumstances are no longer affecting you. You control what affects you.

The beauty of process oriented thinking is that you take back control of your happiness, because your happiness is embedded in the journey that you control, not the result. Many times, results have myriads of uncontrollable variables that are based on luck or happenstance. Why rely on forces outside of your control to dictate your satisfaction? With process oriented thinking, you are the master of your own journey, and the vehicle you choose is happiness.

#2 The relationship with the journey is deeper and more substantial

Have you ever been in a relationship, romantic or otherwise, where it turned out the other person was using you as a means to an end, or perhaps the other way around? Chances are, this relationship didn’t last very long. The same concept applies when thinking about your relationship with your processes.

When you are doing an activity or in a relationship only for the outcome rather than the process, your results dictate your satisfaction with that activity. This type of relationship is superficial at best. However, if you enter into a relationship with a craft or a person with no expectations, and you are mindful every day of perfecting the process, than doors open up for a much deeper relationship.

Lastly, your motivation is not tied to results. This is especially important for people trying to lose weight or for people who are “plateauing” in a certain craft. When progress becomes hard to see or takes longer than expected, those who are tied to results are inevitably more likely to be disappointed and discontinue with their process.

Spark Your Growth

to implement this type of mindset, try to focus on one thing in your life that you are extremely outcome dependent on. For me, it was hockey. Once I started to play the game because it was something that I loved doing, it became immensely more enjoyable. Not only this, but it ended up taking much of the pressure I put on myself to succeed, and without an additional stressor, I actually performed better.

Pick an activity where all you care about is the outcome, and start to focus on the beauty of the process. Soon, you’ll find the journey to be much sweeter than the destination.