It’s an art to remain content with where you are while you’re on the way to something better. Do you feel worn out as you race toward the finish line of a goal? We hear the cliché all the time: “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” But living out the cliché can be a challenge! In a world that values the new and improved, it can be tempting to say, “I sure will be happy when I get that new job/my kids graduate/I retire/I win the lottery.” But what’s even better is being able to say, “I sure will be happy while I wait for that new job/my kids are with me/I’m blessed to have a job.” Whenever I’ve noticed a spirit of discontentment rising up to steal my joy, I coach myself with a few questions that help me appreciate the value of here and now.
1. What are you grateful for?
Contentment and gratitude are inextricably connected. Gratitude empowers you to notice the blessings right in front of you. It opens your mind to the little blessings that, if they suddenly disappeared, wouldn’t seem so little anymore. Stop talking, thinking, and complaining about what you don’t have and start noticing what you do have.
2. What’s the most important lesson being offered to you right now?
When you’re too focused on the future, you can miss the lesson being offered to you today. Even more important than reaching a goal is who you become in the process of reaching it. What character traits are being developed? What destructive habits are being eliminated? What are you learning that you would not have learned otherwise? Look for the lessons. Appreciate them. Embrace them.
3. When you look back on this time a year from now, what will you wish you had done?
This question is a biggie. When frustration impacts your attitude, you are more likely to make choices you’ll later regret. But when you ask yourself this question, you suddenly recognize the magnitude of the opportunity before you. What do you want your legacy to be? Rather than complaining or murmuring about how hard things are, you have an opportunity to face the challenges before you like a champion.
4. In what ways have you already made progress?
Stop taking yourself for granted. Maybe you haven’t made perfect progress, but who has? Acknowledge what you have done. Notice your milestones while they are happening. Celebrate them. Treat yourself. Tell the world. Life is happening right now. Rather than waiting to reach the finish line before you mark your progress, do it with every step you take.