When I took the Clifton Strengthsfinder assessment it was no surprise that one of my strengths is “Achiever,” which means I focus on accomplishing something tangible each and every day. I am one of those people who loved getting a gold star in elementary school for finishing her homework assignments. To this day I keep a to-do list not just to help me remember what I need to get done, but also so I can mark the items off when I complete them. This strength has helped me to be goal-oriented and achieve great success in my life; however it sometimes has left me with a whisper of discontent. I have spent so much of my time focusing on the destination that I have often forgotten to enjoy the journey, which is really what life is about.
Not anymore! I have made a conscious decision to stop looking ahead to the destination, and instead focus on the beauty and excitement of each day. I wake up each morning with a new blank canvas just waiting for me to choose how I am going to paint the day.
I still think about my future and have dreams, but I now recognize that the parts of my life that have made me who I am are not the achievements, but the actual journey. Those tiny moments have left indelible marks on my soul and truly made life worth living. My journey is continually unfolding and I have come to see it as an adventure rather than a step-by-step guide on how to reach a particular destination. Each moment is a piece to the puzzle and the real key to success is to enjoy those moments and find the lessons they can teach you.
The truth is that we have no idea where our journeys will take us, regardless of how much we plot and plan. It is okay to have a destination in mind, but it’s also important to be open to the twist and turns along the way. My life has been full of those types of life changing experiences—some of them dark, scary, and painful; and others inspiring, uplifting, and encouraging—but each experience has lead me to this moment in time.
Instead of focusing on what life will look like “once I achieve my next goal,” or “once I finish my next project,” I am learning to embrace the journey and the opportunities that come my way that allow me to transform into my next best self—more of who I am meant to become. I still may set goals for my life because having things to aim for is important, but they are no longer written in stone. I have learned to be open to new opportunities, to follow my instincts, to be willing to take risks and not to limit myself. I continuously remind myself to go with the flow and relax because it’s in those moments that memories are made.
When we stay focused on the destination, we tend to miss the journey. Don’t forget to take life one day at a time and appreciate all that you have been given. Whatever journey you are on today, wherever you are at, and whatever you are going through—the process of walking your path is the true essence of a life well lived.
Today, I will stop and soak in the beautiful autumn leaves. Then tonight I will get sit down and appreciate the warming of my soul from a cup of delicious hot chocolate and an encouraging word. What will you do today to embrace your journey and live one day at a time?
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion–to energize, encourage and equip others to live their strongest lives now. She is a motivational speaker, writer, teacher, and positive-thinker extraordinaire. She draws on more than 12 years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field, a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of MN Duluth and a Masters of Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is also a certified HR Professional and a life-long learner.