I can’t recall who said the following, but this sentiment speaks volumes: “I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere until I got somewhere.” When we overfocus on a goal, we lose connection to the process of getting there. Nowhere is this truer than on the road to “normal” eating.
How many of you have had this experience? You have a goal—say, not yelling at your kids, increasing sales for your company, exercising three days a week, or becoming conversant in Spanish. You know in your head that this is exactly what you want to do, while another part of you is saying that this objective is ridiculously impossible and that you can’t possibly achieve it. Inching along, you feel as if you’re standing still, making no progress. But with persistence, step by baby step, you continue to move forward until suddenly, voilá, you’re there—you’ve achieved what you set out to do.
Miraculously, or so it seems, you’re not raising your voice so much with your children, your sales numbers are skyrocketing, you’re in a three-day-a-week exercise groove, and are beginning actually to think in Spanish. You’ve reached your goal, and that’s your entire focus. Often, you can’t imagine how you did it or that you could ever do anything like it again. Because you don’t know how to evaluate going from start to finish, the whole process seems like magic, like a fluke.
This seemingly sudden arrival at “having gotten somewhere” is thrilling, but it can be made all the more valuable by recognizing the process you went through to get there. The idea of going from “nowhere” to “somewhere” smacks of all-or-nothing thinking. It wildly misrepresents how change happens, making it appear as if you zoom from 0 to 100 without passing through all the numbers in between. It removes a large, important chunk of your journey from your awareness. Worst of all, it robs you of understanding the change process and valuing every miniscule step of it.
All of the above-mentioned goals involve stretching yourself—thinking, feeling and acting differently. Practicing patience with the kids, trying new sales strategies, shifting your schedule to make time for the gym, and studying Spanish late into the night. This is where the change is happening. “Somewhere” is where the change has already happened. It’s what happens in between that counts: you’ve taken off, are nearing the halfway point, are almost there. Keep your eye on your next step, not the final goal, and pay keen attention to what happens between “nowhere and somewhere.”