Some of us are serial procrastinators. We postpone our goals to an extent where we don’t do them at all.
Others fear taking action. Just the whole idea of pursuing a goal feels harrowing because it might make us look stupid.
I won’t deny it. The two factors mentioned above do play a crucial part in our inability to take action. But the root cause of these factors is something we never talk about.
The primary reason why we fail to commit to something is that we are too results-oriented.
In Business School, I was trained to wear the “results-oriented professional” badge of honor. Consequently, my CV sported hefty jargon, replete with sales figures that I generated in a three-month internship. Sadly, I barely stood out.
In tenth grade, they told me that it’s one of the most crucial years of my life. If I study hard, I can enjoy the rest of my life. In the two years of school that followed, my teachers chanted the same success credos over and over again — ” Study Now! Enjoy Later!” Surprisingly, I was among the many students who fell for this trap.
I fell in love with the idea of chasing the financial freedom that would come with a job. Little did I realize that this “end” would never come. As a result, instead of studying or practicing a craft every day, my eyes were set on a destination. The problem with this approach was that I was always one step too far from the results I wanted.
Results Will Come For Sure. But Not How You Want Them To.
After school, the whole idea of being results-oriented started seeping into other aspects of my life. When I started working out in college, I would come back to my hostel room after the gym and admire how pumped my muscles looked. But within a few hours, this pump would disappear into nothingness, and the soreness would kick in. “Why am I even working out?” I would ask myself.
For years, I was on and off the gym. Often, looking for “ideal” workout plans that did not exist. I wanted to see results. Noticeable Applicable Results. But the lack of it sent me on a downward spiral of procrastination and fear.
Only when I started perceiving my appearance as a mere outcome of working out — not as a result — I became more consistent. Ultimately, I did get big and strong. But only without chasing numbers on the weighing scale or the plates that I slapped on the barbells.
There’s a scene in the film ‘A Beautiful Mind.’ John Nash watches a man receiving pens as honors for his contribution to his field of work. When asked what he observes, he says he sees “recognition” (his end goal).
Despite being a genius, John Nash falls for the societal trap of seeking fame for his work. Instead of perceiving his work as a process of contributing to the world.
Towards the end of the film, Nash goes through a significant catharsis. He debunks all of his previous ideas of success. Then comes a day when he, too, gets the same “pens honors.” And the beauty of it is that he achieves this when he no longer perceives it as fame or an end goal for the contribution he has made.
How to be Less Results-Oriented?
There’s nothing particularly wrong with setting goals for yourself. The problem arises when you see these goals as results.
“If I study hard, I’ll land a good job and earn more money.”
“I’m working out because I want to be 48 kgs by the end of this year.”
“I’m writing this blog post to get more views.”
Shallow goals like these make us fall into a loop where we’re continually chasing happiness from the destination, not the journey.
THERE IS NO DESTINATION
Stop attaching a state of well-being to your goals.
Setting goals can be very beneficial if you see it means of measuring progress. But it becomes a dissatisfying destination when you attach it with high stakes.
“I’ll write 1000 words, per day, for the next one year.” — a goal with no quantifiable results.
“I’ll write 1000 words, per day, for the next one year and then become a bestselling author.” — high stakes distracting you from the process.
See the difference?
The results paradox
Think of it this way. When you’re too focused on the results, you suck the joy out of pursuing that activity every single day.
For instance, if you’re studying for a good GPA, you’re not focusing on expanding your knowledge. All you want is the gratification that comes with good grades. And because of your lack of engagement with what you’ve studied, you won’t even get those good grades you’re seeking.
So quantitative results are only an outcome of being less results-oriented and focusing more on being dedicated to the process daily.
The problem with last-minute results and overnight success
According to statistics, most lottery winners are likely to go bankrupt within 3–4 years after winning. A lottery winner gets deemed as an overnight success. However, when a person skips the arduous process of saving, earning, and investing to become a millionaire, he/she has acquired no skills to sustain that wealth.
Research also suggests that almost all participants of ‘The Biggest Loser’ later gained back their lost weight. Although their hard work throughout the show’s runtime is well appreciated, they never learned the benefits of creating long-term habits.
In simple words, take one step at a time. Instead of leaping towards results, slowly descend towards improvement. Success then won’t be a mere act, but an outcome of many habits.