Nathanael Garrett Novosel, August 23 2023

Enjoy the Process

This is a difficult post for me because my mind immediately goes to everything that's difficult for me to be disciplined about:

I know that there are many more for others, from calling their friends and family to saving money every paycheck to doing their homework. There are many things in life that require frequent or strenuous work to attain or maintain. The problem with most things in life is that they want the outcome but they don't want to do what it takes to get that outcome. You want the body but don't want to do the exercise; you want the clean house but don't want to do the cleaning; you want the degree or money but not the studying or working. This is not easy.

But there are only a few things you can do to increase your likelihood of doing anything:

Two of those four items listed here are ways to motivate you to go through the work necessary to get your outcome. If you want to be the world's strongest man, you'll work yourself to exhaustion over and over again in the gym. If you want to buy your dream home, you'll work countless hours building your wealth to acquire it. As the saying goes, someone with a "why" can bear almost any "how".

But if you want your life to feel more effortless vs. feeling like it was a daily grind toward success, you might want to focus on the other two items: enjoying the process and/or delineating roles so that you do what is preferable to you. This is the best thing you can do because it reduces the willpower required to be disciplined in your daily routine.

So how do you learn to enjoy the process? There are plenty of techniques, so let's just go through a few:

I'm sure that there are more, but hopefully this gives you a list of ways that you can use to find more enjoyment in the process vs. just the outcome. This is an important focus that has become overlooked in modern society's ubiquity of options for instant gratification. After all, why cook a meal when you can just microwave it? Why go out shopping or make something when you can just order it on Amazon at the click of a button? While there is nothing wrong with exercising those options, it does take away from the idea that this time saved could be focused on productive activities and not just more time for leisure or entertainment.

One final thing I want to note here is that I have found that just convincing yourself that you do like the process does help a little in getting you over the hump. Yes, a lot of it is focusing on the outcome, like reminding yourself about the muscular physique you can have or the endorphin high you'll get from exercise, but I have found that telling myself over and over again, "Love leg day," and, "You'll have no problem doing it once you've started doing it for five minutes" are good reminders that nothing is as bad as you make it out to be. I actually got myself for a while to get over the "hump" of taking the first step toward going to the gym for squats or going to do the dishes when I shifted my mind away from the dread of doing the activity. I also find that the more you hold off, the more you'll hold off in any activity where work piles up, from dishes and laundry to e-mails and appointments because it'll require a lot more work in a single sitting to catch up. So doing a little more frequently seems to be easier than having to block a huge amount of time to do a lot at once; however, you might be the opposite where you prefer to do a lot once per month, quarter, or year instead of more regular activities.

Whatever you choose to try, it will be very valuable to you to enjoy the process. After all, the majority of life is "the process" of living; you only enjoy the high of an achievement for maybe a few days at most before it goes away and you want something else. So if you don't enjoy the process, you'll spend the majority of your life miserable. Yes, we live more and more of our lives with free time instead of having to work, but the increasing rates of anxiety and depression show that this is ironically backfiring and causing people to have less enjoyment in their lives. In fact, one could argue that the anxiety and depression is a signal that they have learned to dread "the process" in life—social engagements, responsibilities, etc. are weighing people down instead of giving them meaning. If you want to avoid that trend, you'll need to do something different than jumping into the world of instant gratification and digital voyeurism (where there will always be someone showing off the best parts of their lives to make you feel inadequate). The fastest way to doing that is to learn to enjoy the process of living your life and not to focus so much about the outcome and how it compares to everyone else's outcomes. Do that, and you will feel much more at peace with your life as it is and how it's progressing.

Written by

Nathanael Garrett Novosel


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