As the elevator doors opened, I could hear them complaining loudly to the front desk clerk. We had just checked in to the most amazing hotel in Milan and, while we were up in our room marveling at the stained glass windows and centuries-old furniture, they had marched down to the lobby to voice their disapproval.
The hotel was built originally as a castle in the 12th century, then was converted into a monestary for several thousand years, and now, complete with its original charm, slanted hallways, and laundry swaying in the center quad, it had become a once-in-a-lifetime, fairytale respite.
We were awed by its appearance, thrilled by its charm, and couldn’t wait to learn more about its history.
The unhappy tourists found, yet again, another reason to complain because things were not what they were used to. I stood baffled as I literally heard the wife say, “this is nothing like America!”
Well no. That’s because this is Italy.
How often have we heard the phrase, “It’s the journey, not the destination?”
But that’s not quite right either.
We can head toward a destination. We can even enjoy the journey, but that’s still not enough.
What makes it all worth it is not the destination OR the journey.
The destination is overrated. If you believe the destination is not the source of your happiness, you are entirely correct. Unfortunately, that’s the “prize” we are most often sold: “Get to the top faster than anyone else.”
But once you get there, then what?
A new destination. A new goal, a new dream, a new possibility. Perhaps a new achievement, accomplishment, or qualification. Achievement is fantastic, but it is empty if it stands alone.
If you believe enjoying the journey along the way will make you happy, you are only half right.
Striving toward a goal, even if we enjoy the process of getting there, sets us up to eventually wonder, “what’s the point?”
No, what makes it all worth it – the destination and the journey – is the transformation we undergo in the process.
At the end of each journey, we must have become more than who we were when we began.
Not just accomplished more, but become more.
We must have evolved into something we were not, and could not have been, without the journey itself. The effort required to achieve the goal and the growth we experience along the way, makes us worthy of the accomplishment.
In order to transform, we must be willing to grow, change, learn, and embrace that which causes us to become more than we thought possible along the way. We must stretch into a better version of ourself.
Without growth – the transformation – we are merely serial achievers. Transformation is what makes the journey’s effort entirely worth it.
Those unhappy tourists were disappointed with their destination and the journey. Sadly, they chose not to grow into better people through the process. I suspect they will be perpetually unhappy.
This quote by David Viscott, M.D., which is thumbtacked and now faded on my vision board, has always been one of my favorites:
There is nothing as exciting, or as wonderful as choosing a different goal, working hard, and succeeding. It’s not the success that is so important but the process of growth, of becoming more than one set out to be and, in the bargain, discovering a better part of yourself.
In the comments below, tell me about one of your happiest achievements and how you grew into someone better, how you transformed in the pursuit of that goal.