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Process Vs Result | How To Get What You Want And Enjoy It

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It is natural for us as human beings to look for the fastest and most efficient way to where we want to be.

This is only made worse by the era of social media where everybody is a billionaire with a perfect body and relationships, or so it seems.

We see these non-existent ideals and obviously want the same, and we want it yesterday.

We want the result without any of the process. The title without any of the studying, learning and time it goes into achieving anything.

The body without any of the workouts, pain, sweat and discipline applied over a long period of time.

They keys to the CEO’s office of a billion dollar company without the years of pain, stress, fear and problem solving. 

The issue is, if this were to actually happen, we wouldn’t enjoy the result at all. It would be empty, meaningless. 

It is a paradox. We would be on to chasing a different result like a toddler getting sick of a toy and wanting a new one.

For it is the process itself that gives any meaning to the result. Anything that you appreciate in your life, comes from knowing the sacrifices you made to achieve it.

Depending on how far off the “deserve” factor is, it would be short lived. You wouldn’t even know how to handle it. You wouldn’t know how to make the decisions to maintain it or take care of it because you never truly earned it.

When we first immigrated and my parents saved up money to buy me a $300 video game console, it meant more than them handing me a $3000 cheque now when they are more financially stable and set in life. 

I obviously didn’t know it at the time, but the reason for this is because it took more sacrifice and the process was more meaningful in the prior.

It’s saving up for your first car that you buy on your own. You clean and take care of that shit-box and worship it.

That’s different than being handing the keys from a trust fund lifestyle to a $80,000 Mercedes.

If I lived in a country where I could use corruption and paying people off to get my doctorate degree, it would mean nothing and I wouldn’t care for it at all.

But the fact that it took hard work, a long time and $100,000s of debt to achieve, I treat it with respect and it gives me confidence in myself. It is a representation of the sacrifice I made in the process of achieving it. 

The other thing is, the result is merely a moment in time. The process is the majority of your life and how your time is spent. 

The result is a moving target, once you achieve it, you want the next level (as you should) for this is how progress is made and you sustain a meaningful path forward towards your goals. 

When you optimize for the result alone, the process becomes fraught with much more suffering, impatience and it becomes merely a means to an end.

When I was in college, I made this mistake. I put getting into medical school on a pedestal and anything unrelated to my one goal, I didn’t do.

I didn’t socialize. I didn’t care for my health. I didn’t take any trips. I have no college experiences to look back at. 

After I was done my work for the day, I forced myself to do garbage “busy work” that wasn’t important just to tell myself how busy I was.

I made the process a much worse time for myself than it had to be. And funny enough the day I got into medical school, I felt completely numb and wasn’t happy at all.

Everyone around me was happy but I couldn’t help but feel like “This? This email is what I suffered those 4 years for?”.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want the result. I did. And it was valuable. But because I made the process of getting to it, so much worse than it had to be, it took away from the result itself. 

Having learned this painful lesson, I overcompensated in medical school. 

I did my work as efficiently as possible and I milked every second of free time to pursue hobbies, build what I wanted to build and taste as many different experiences as I could.

The work and hours in med school were much more challenging than college, but I look back at it with fondness and gratitude for how I spent that time.

I optimized for the result in both cases, and I got to where I wanted to go. However, in the latter, I prioritized the process day-to-day, as long as I knew in the big picture, I was headed towards the result.

The first time I cut down body fat and transformed myself (after a breakup of course), I took it to the extreme. I ate once a day and lost way too much weight. I stopped socializing, cause I had no energy to. I would leave my apartment to go to the grocery store and gym, and nothing else was happening in my life.

I got the abs, I lost the weight. The result was achieved. The process? Unsustainable, suffering, unnecessary and took away from the result.

Learn, adapt, overcome. 

I still train, I still eat healthy. But I optimize for the process. I eat a normal amount of calories to maintain a good physique over the long haul, not in 6 weeks from now for one day. 

I train and enjoy it. I smile and nod at people at the gym. I hang out with my friends and make adjustments to my calories when I know I’ll be going out to eat once in a while. I don’t avoid it like the plague. 

Result=achieved. Process= much better and enjoyable.

The reality is, to achieve anything you want in this world, you will have to earn it. You don’t get what you don’t deserve, at least not in the long term. If you get it, it will be short lived and you won’t be able to replicate it. 

The process is non-negotiable. It’s the price you must pay. The actions you must take. Depending on the goal and how far away you are from it, the process will be more or less challenging.

However, you do have choice in how you spend that process.

My advice to you, based on my own previous mistakes would be this.

Set a goal, an ideal, a vision for every area of your life. Your health, your wealth, your spirit, your relationships, everything. If you could have it your way (you can), how would you want all these areas to look?

Then set up a process where you are taking care of needle moving activities and actions, where the natural by-product of them is progress towards your ideal.

So if you want to be in shape (you should) these needle moving tasks might look like:

  • Lift at least 3x per week
  • Meal prep every Sunday
  • Review and adjust calories and workout plan every 2 months

If you want to achieve a monetary/work related goal:

  • Do 100 flashcards daily
  • Volunteer twice a week
  • Write 2 post/week

They are simple actions, that are not hard to complete. You put them in your calendar, and you execute. You don’t question it. You already came up with them when setting your ideals. You trust your prior self and you execute. 

The time will pass anyways. The more boxes you check on your needle moving activities in the process, the more the results will reflect that. Simple. Inputs= outputs. Time=growth or destruction, depending on the inputs.

Now, once you have come up with your big goals and visions and the needle moving processes to get you there, you execute daily.

You will find, that as long as you work efficiently, after you check your boxes on these major activities every day, you will have plenty of time and energy left.

At this point, the world is your oyster. Play video games, go out with your friends, take a trip, go for a hike, do whatever the hell you want. 

You don’t get extra credit for suffering extra. No one will praise you for making yourself more miserable than you need to be.

If you are setting worthwhile goals, you will be faced with plenty of challenge and hardship to deal with anyways. No need to do it to yourself.

Sometimes the process will be more difficult than other times, and adjustments will have to be made on the fly, this is just the reality of life.

Check in with yourself often, and make sure you are still optimized for the result. It is easy to get carried away day-to-day and start getting a little too lenient and optimizing too much for the process. You need to stay focused. It will get better over time. 

A good way I like to do this, is journaling. I review my goals and visions every morning, and every night. I make the schedule for the week every Sunday, that is in keeping with the vision in each area.

Every night, I’ll input specific tasks for the next day. 

In the morning, I review the big picture vision (why am I about to these things today). Then I review the schedule for the day (the needle moving tasks that will get me where I want to go over time). Then I execute. Then at night, I review how I did for the day, and repeat the process for tomorrow.

I am at a point now, where I need to do those big check-ins with myself about once a month.

The needle moving tasks are always my #1 priority every single day. But once those boxes are checked, I make sure I do whatever I want to enjoy the process with the time and energy I have left.

Some days, it’s a few minutes left, some days, it’s a good few hours.

As time goes on, I will have to adjust along the way. But make no mistake, I will achieve whatever I set out to because inputs=outputs. 

By doing the above though I will enjoy the process the best I can, and then enjoy the result when I get there, rather than being filled with resentment and pain because I gave up too much in the process.

Till next time.

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