Focus on the road, not on the goal

…or never choose a goal where the road leading up there is paved by shit.

The journey is the reward (Steve Jobs)

You probably want to be happy, slim, rich and completely free, all at the same time.
And because you want it all, it means practically nothing.

What life ultimately makes us become is not a goal fulfilled or unfulfilled, but a journey: that we should find rewarding on a regular day. Even when it’s not all roses. The suffer, the failures, the discomfort.

I was often told that I had to work hard, sit through boring classes, respect authority and walk a very-well beaten path to make it somewhere – let it be education, work, romantic relationships or even friendships.

The general idea was that the journey is not (or even shouldn’t be) enjoyable but eventually making it somewhere: surviving, being important, having social prestige or being happy at the is what matters. That no matter how shitty is the journey as long as it leads to the desired goal.

I disagree. I think Gandhi was happy rotting in a prison for years. No matter how awkward it may sound, it was part the journey he chose.

The whole idea of a good life is one where we get to know what we enjoy, what we are good at and we improve that field. The suffering and the hardships will always be there. But as long as we enjoy it – who cares what the others think about this life!?

I was told to be lawyer or a doctor or an engineer or something of this sort. But I never respected the very letter of the law, never got interested in physics, chemistry or health issues, let alone machines.
Thank god, I never listened…

So what’s goal and what’s journey?
An easy example: sex.

You’re a healthy young male. So you want to fuck everything that moves.
But to do it, you have to follow the rules of the game. (You don’t want to end up in jail for rape, eh?)
You’ll have to date. Experiment. Look this way. That way. Try this line, that line. Be confident. Be shy. Meet a dating expert. You have to learn how to do it all.
You want the sex. But you’ll only become the alpha male Don Juan only if you agree to take this journey.

If you love the sex part but hate the process of getting there (let it be the risk-taking, the expensive drinks, the superficiality or being seen naked) you won’t go down this road.

You can not be an architect without drawing for hundreds of hours. No politician makes it without thousands of meetings. No self-made billionaire is there without risking it all over and over again. You can not have a good relationship without working for it every day and build up parts over and over again. You can not be an Olympic sportsman without putting half your life on this goal and risk burnout and sport injuries.

I know a successful businessman. He has some 40 employees working for him, makes a lot of money and so on and so forth.
He “made it” when he managed to make a deal getting around his benefactor. He fucked him and took over their business. The benefactor soon bankrupted and let his employees go.
For me, this is a shit-paved road to success. One I’d never take.

Every path has its downs. As a tour leader I’ve had to argue with a whole lot of different people over the last years. Office people. Passengers. Bus drivers. For years I thought every assignment can be the last (as they were for most of my best colleagues). I had to sit through extremely boring dinners. I spent a large part of my year with strangers: mainly old Americans. I often had to go to sleep late, wake up early, check luggage, listen to complaints, sign papers and plenty of uncomfortable things. I risked my long-term relationship simply by not being there when I was needed. I worked in 19 different countries. Then, there was plenty of great things too on the way.

All-in-all, together with the hardships, the discomfort, this was a journey, a lifestyle I enjoyed.
It’s not the goal, the money or the stories but the everyday happenings that kept me going – and satisfied for a while.

This is why I’m writing this article right now. I don’t even need a single reader. I just love to do it.

I’m not here to tell you to be a businessman or a tour leader or a writer. I’m just here to tell you: if you have to choose, don’t look at the goal but look at the journey and look closely: is this how you want to live?

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