Process This: Why Focusing on Process versus Completion Leads to Stronger Results
“The less you focus on the end result, the quicker it will come.”
– Robin S. Sharma, The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari
I was scouring my bookshelf the other day, looking for a book to read, or re-read, and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari; a Spiritual Fable about Fulfilling Your Dreams and Reaching Your Destiny, by Robin S. Sharma, caught my eye. I’ve read this book at least three times over the years but am always struck by new insights each time I read it – and/or reminded of old aha’s.
This time around, the author’s comments pertaining to the importance of focusing on the process of achieving a goal, versus completion, is hitting a chord. The following story, as told in the book, nicely illustrates this point:
“A young boy travelled far from his home to study under a great teacher. When he met the wise old man, his first question was, ‘How long will it take me before I am as wise as you?’
The response came quickly, ‘Five years.’
‘This is a very long time,’ the boy replied. ‘How about if I work twice as hard?’
‘Then it will take ten,’ said the master.
‘Ten! That’s far too long. How about if I studied all day and well into the night, every night?’
‘Fifteen years,’ said the sage.
‘I don’t understand,’ replied the boy. ‘Every time I promise to devote more energy to my goal, you tell me that it will take longer. Why?’
‘The answer is simple. With one eye fixed on the destination, there is only one left to guide you along the journey.’”
But that’s not say that one shouldn’t set an end point – a target date in which to complete said goal.
“You will never hit a target that you cannot see.”
– Robin S. Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
As such, I am finding it helpful to set a reasonable deadline by which I want to achieve my goal (and write it down!) but then NOT focus on it – for the very reason given above: doing so only serves to distract me from the task at hand, thereby lessening the quality of both the process and the end result.
Instead, what I do now is take the time to write down all the specific tasks that need to get done – and when – in order to achieve a large goal. Although this is overwhelming, at first, to realize just how much actually does have to get done, the next step – of dividing all the tasks into bite-sized weekly and daily chunks – makes a seemingly overwhelming goal actually achievable.
Then I am able to just show up each day and simply do the tasks, one by one, that need to get done. I can concentrate on the task at hand – often tackled in a short but highly productive chunk of time – because I know that if I focus on the present, the future will take care of itself.
Of course, it has taken me years of missing the mark to be able to determine what is actually achievable in a day, a week, a month, a year…but that’s all part of what the process has to teach 🙂
Here is the follow-up blog: Write Your Goals Down – If You Want to Achieve a Goal You Have to Write it Down
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive Maryanne’s weekly blog, please sign up here.