4 min read

How to Let Go of Expectations About Achieving Your Goals

How to Let Go of Expectations About Achieving Your Goals
Photo by Nik / Unsplash

When you shift your focus to the process and the journey, you activate your motivation.

You've probably heard the phrase, "Love the process and not the goal," tossed around when it comes to achieving your dreams.

Let's take a closer look at what that really means.

The Pitfall of Goal Attachment

A couple of years ago, I found myself in a constant struggle to make progress on my goals.

I was self-employed, and the tasks I hated were piling up. It felt like I should be much further ahead in my business, and I blamed myself for not being there. The more I resisted the daily grind, the more drained I felt.

Have you ever had days when you're stuck doing tasks that aggravate you?

This was a mindset problem, and I realized it was of my own making.

I've talked before about how we tend to identify with our difficulties. It's a common challenge for entrepreneurs, especially those flying solo. If you don't have a team yet, you're wearing all the hats to make your business grow.

My coaching clients faced similar challenges.

Some clients resisted the daily habits needed for improved health, while others grappled with fear of change and stepping out of their comfort zone. The common thread? We resist investing energy in changing our behaviour.

The Power of Falling in Love with the Process

Let's get back to that expression: "Fall in love with the process, not the goal."

While it's motivating to embrace the process, you should never become emotionally dependent on the goal itself. The key is to fall in love with the doing — the actions — and accepting, trusting, and believing that your actions will lead to your desired outcome.

Love is a powerful emotion that fuels motivation, putting you in an open and receptive state.

This love for the process can lead you into a state of flow, where you lose track of time and space, engrossed in the work. The more you focus on the doing — the present moment and loving the process — you simply can’t be attached to an outcome. And without attachment or expectations, you will more easily work on your goal without obligation or internal criticism.

For the longest time, I had the goal of being a successfully published author.

Now, the only way I could measure that goal would be if I got a book deal and was published.

Yet, along the way, writing, learning, and working with clients, I came to realize that I have a message to share with the world. How that message got out there wasn’t dependent on me being an author. That was a considerable epiphany. I realized I could share my message in writing, videos, public speaking, or even in a successfully published book.

That awareness led me to start a podcast. I felt more comfortable sharing my thoughts, in the hope that by sharing my experiences and learnings, I could help improve how others think, and make a positive difference in their lives.

That was a more profound and satisfying outcome for me than the ‘single goal’ of publishing a book.

I learned that the process of writing led me to the outcome — not of getting a book published — but instead, sharing my message using the medium of podcasting.

Redefining Goals Along the Way

As you immerse yourself in the process, you gain a more profound understanding of your goals.

Often, you'll find yourself modifying them along the way, just as I did. Maybe the goal feels too big, or not specific enough, or your life changes course. That's okay. Your journey transforms your perspective, allowing you to adjust the parameters of your original goal.

Remember, it's the process — the work you do in the present moment — that counts.

If we feel like we are going off course, that is a message. It could mean we haven’t been as persistent in our work, or that the love — the emotional drive — isn’t motivating us to do the work. That’s when we question the validity and the veracity of our original goal. And that’s precisely when we must see the outcome as the sum of all our work to date, and what steps we should take next.

The Importance of Persistence

Persistence in the process is crucial.

There will be days when motivation wanes, but love for the process keeps you going. It's what propels you toward success. Ultimately, the only thing you can control is your actions — and the ones you choose to execute.

Here are some tips to help maintain that drive:

  • Embrace the daily tasks, habits, and mindset work as necessary fuel.
  • Accept that the process itself is the journey — there’s no jumping even one step ahead.
  • Keep adjusting and learning as you go. It’s normal to make refinements as you get closer to what you want because the pieces of the puzzle are taking the shape of your goal.

The Journey Matters

Loving the process means embracing all the work and every step required along the journey.

It's about staying open to new awareness and changing the criteria of your goals when necessary. While being in love with your goals will fuel your motivation, don't become attached to a specific outcome. Ultimately, it's the process, like puzzle pieces coming together, that paints the landscape of your dreams.

So, fall in love with the journey — it's where the magic happens.