I have come across more people recently that have talked about counting down the days until retirement, marking off the days until graduation, anxiously watching the clock tick down until quitting time, or biding their time until the next job opportunity comes along. It’s one thing to look forward to the future with eager anticipation, but quite another to “wish time away”. To be honest, I have been there before with these same thoughts.
I can recall my time in college at Tech just thinking if I could just get through that test and make it to the weekend that life would be great. I recall studying endless hours for the CPA exam and just wanting that entire process to be over and to have that burden behind me. I can go on with personal examples, but there’s no need. We all have those times in our life. Again, it’s one thing to look forward to overcoming a challenge or to experiencing new opportunity, but let’s don’t miss out on what today offers.
As I have gotten older, I am much more keenly aware of the value of each day and all the opportunities within the day. Some of these opportunities are more appealing than others, but they are all opportunities. The opportunity may be a challenge to overcome, a person to help, a lesson to learn, a problem to solve, or an event to experience. The key is to recognize each day as an opportunity.
One of our problems today is our extreme fixation with accomplishment. Whether we are talking about our personal life, our vocation, our family, or any other aspect of our life, we can become so consumed with a desired outcome, that we fail to recognize the blessing and value of the journey to get there. I don’t totally disagree with the phrase “keep your eye on the prize” as motivations to stay focused on what’s important to you, but that concept taken to an extreme can be problematic as well. I have found it much more meaningful to start with purpose and let that drive a process and lifestyle that is impactful and fulfilling.
When we can find joy in the process and not just the results, life takes on new meaning. It’s when we fall in love with the process that each day matters as we move toward that next “thing” in our life. We still look forward to new things and better circumstances, but we make the most of each day along the path. More than likely, we will look back on the process as a blessing and the destination as a bonus.
Too many people go into retirement with no clear purpose. Total self-absorption only lasts for a short while. We are created for purpose and need that each day. If you are in that category now or approaching it, spend some time and find purpose for that stage of life. That purpose will drive your process each day. For the younger generation, keep in mind that craving the results in life without making the most of the process will generally guarantee disappointment.
For those of you marking off days on the calendar, watching the clock tick, staring at the bigger office, or endlessly dreaming of that new _____________, don’t give up on those dreams or wishes, but seek to find purpose in today and start making the most of the opportunities in front of you. Finding joy in the ups and downs may just be the secret you are searching for in life.