I have been consuming my usual unhealthy amount of sport this summer. One of the highlights being Wimbledon. The success of Jo Konta has brought to mind the idea of a process. She is famous for developing a process she goes through during every point. It is designed to get her focused on the moment and concentrated for every single point. When interviewed she constantly talks about trusting the process because she knows that will bring her good things. She doesn’t focus on the outcome, just the process, always.
When the goal becomes the focus
In my personal life I have been focusing on trimming down a little; losing a bit of the extra baggage. To do this I decided to start running everyday. I managed to do this for a couple of months. Get up every morning, focus on the run and get it done. Then the weight started to drop, this is when my focus started to shift. I started to think if I run a couple more weeks I will lose ‘X’ amount of weight. The running started to falter, become more difficult and my motivation started to drop. I had lost focus on the process.
The shift in my focus from my daily run to how much weight I could drop severely affected my running. The one thing that was ensuring I was losing the weight in the first place. By focusing on the goal, I was ignoring how to get there. Imagine sitting at home focusing on getting to the shop without actually then focusing on how to get there. You will be going nowhere very fast.
Why you need a plan
“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”
W. Edwards Deming
When we begin any project or course we are often told to think about the goal. Whether that is the grade you will get or the product you will build. This gives us our target. Once that has been defined the key is to use it to the develop a plan. This will be your process of getting there. Much like how you may plan your travel. Without it you really are not going to get there. However, what many people are guilty of, me included (a lot), is getting fixated on the goal. Whether that be financial, material or physical. We start imagining what life will be like when we get to that place. This is when one may start to lose their way.
The idea of having a plan can often sound very boring. However, the necessity for one cannot be underestimated. It is quite literally how you are going to get from where you are to where you want to be. We use plans on a daily basis. When we walk to work or university or when we cook our dinner or decide on what we are going to do with our friends on a night out. These types of plans are habitual, part of what we do. However, when it comes to larger goals one often does not adopt the same habit. No matter how much it is needed.
Emotions can hinder our process
“If you are facing in the right direction, all you need to do is keep on walking.”
Now all this talk of planning can sound pretty mundane and boring. You may well be right. This is possibly because when people are planning or repeating the same tasks over and over their interest switches to something else. It is certainly a lot more pleasant to be dreaming of being a millionaire than experiencing the up and down emotions of running your own business. This is one of the reasons that people’s attention often gets taken away from the process. Imagining your perfect life feels much better than the potential stresses you may experience getting there.
Our emotions are often the reason our focus shifts to the outcome. When you start to drop a few pounds you feel better. It is only natural to then start thinking “if I can just shift a bit more I will feel even better. When will that be? So, I started a month ago and lost…” That is where it begins, your concentration has immediately shifted from the process to the outcome. When it doesn’t happen as fast as you hoped motivation drops, the exercise becomes more difficult. All you need to remember is if I focus on my run every morning and improving that, the weight will come off. I don’t need to do anything else but focus on my run.
Habits are the bedrock of your process
“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.”
As human beings our behaviours are formed from our habits. How we learned to do things or not do things is what informs our actions. So when we are deciding on how we want to achieve our goals it is important to identify the habits that will help us make it happen. By then developing these habits over time they will underpin our process. Whatever you have planned out, in order to achieve your goal, will need key habits. Behaviours that are habitual will allow you to much more easily focus and stick to your process. Start small and grow from there.
If you can learn to fall in love with your process it will make life a lot more fun. Afterall it is what you do that is really what your life is about. Achievements will come and go but what you choose to do day to day is what will ultimately give your life the pleasure you may be seeking.
We would love to know if there are any processes or habits you are dedicated to. What do you do every day or week to get to where you want to be?