Embrace the Process
By David Drinks
I think we’ve all been there. You set a big goal, and it’s a goal that gets you excited. It’s something that you’ve always wanted to accomplish, and now it seems within your grasp! The only thing standing in your way is the time, energy, and sacrifice that it takes to reach this goal of yours.
Now don’t get me wrong. While I did say that this goal is very exciting, and it’s something that really motivates you, I did not say that it’s easy to accomplish. And honestly speaking, the goals that are really worth something are very rarely easy to accomplish anyways.
So, if you want to achieve this big goal of yours, it’s going to require some perseverance, diligence, and most likely some discomfort. (You’ll notice, by the way, that I’m leaving this goal open-ended because it could be anything from a health and fitness goal to a career or life goal. The important thing is that it’s a goal that is meaningful to you!)
Unfortunately, the need for perseverance, diligence, and discomfort is what causes many people to give up on pursuing their goals. Once they begin running into roadblocks, whether they are physical, mental, or emotional roadblocks, they retreat back to their comfort zone and stop pursuing their goals.
I heard someone say recently that our society is addicted to comfort. I think in many cases that's true. However, accomplishing a big goal often requires some real discomfort. Doing something that matters in life will usually push you outside of your comfort zone - in a good way.
Now I don’t mean to imply that this challenge to accomplish hard goals only happens to weak people, or that someone who struggles to accomplish their big goal is fundamentally flawed.
As a matter of fact, many strong, talented, hard-working people also fail to achieve big goals. That tells me that it’s not just a matter of grit and determination, but rather it’s a matter of focus.
Allow me to explain what I mean by this.
Often, people get discouraged in the pursuit of their big goal, because they focus solely on the big goal. In other words, they’ve got their eyes fixed on the prize, but in this case, that’s their biggest downfall.
Why is that? Well, the fact of the matter is those big goals are hard to accomplish if they aren’t broken down into manageable steps that are easier to conquer. Taking on a goal that requires several months or years to accomplish is admirable, but few people can sustain themselves by solely focusing on the end product.
Instead, it’s far better to take the approach of breaking down goals into monthly, weekly, and daily action steps, and once you have those in place you can focus only on achieving what is necessary to accomplish today.
Rather than focusing on the prize at the end of the tunnel to keep you motivated, focus on what you have to accomplish right now. After all, you can only do one thing at a time, so you might as well put all your focus into what matters today!
This day-by-day, moment-by-moment way of approaching big goals – as well as life in general – is what head football coach at the University of Alabama, Nick Saban, refers to as “The Process.”
Saban preaches “The Process” to his players, coaches, and staff, and it’s what he attributes all of the success he’s had at Alabama to. And just to give you an idea of how successful Saban has been at Alabama, let me give you a few of the numbers.
Saban’s career record as a college football coach is 261-65-1. That’s right – he’s won 261 games and only lost 65. That means he wins nearly 80% of the games he coaches!
He has been the head football coach at the University of Alabama since 2007, and during that time, they are 170-23. That’s right, they’ve won 170 games and only lost 23. That's nearly a 90% winning percentage!
Saban has won 8 College Football National Championships in that same timeframe, and he has won many other awards and accolades during his career. Forbes magazine has even referred to him as “The Most Powerful Coach in Sports.”
Taking a look at those numbers, it becomes evident that Saban’s success did not happen by accident. So what is this method that he has for building such a successful football program? Well, let’s take a look.
Saban’s basic belief is that if you focus on the desired result instead of focusing on the consistent, methodical daily preparation required to achieve that result, then you are destined for failure. Improvement and progress toward your goal is a steady, day-by-day march, and you have to be committed to focusing on what you have to do each day to move toward your goal.
Embracing the process means that you choose not to focus on the successes or failures of the past, and you refuse to be distracted by what could happen tomorrow. Rather, you stay in the moment and put 100% of your focus on the here and now.
For Saban’s players, that means that they cannot focus on what happened in the previous football game, good or bad, and they cannot focus on the upcoming game. To embrace the process, they simply must show up to practice each day, and give everything they have to the drill they are in, the film session they are in, or whatever else is necessary today to build success.
To me, that’s a powerful lesson. It’s all too easy to get caught up daydreaming about what could happen tomorrow or what I want to happen tomorrow. However, the thing that I want to accomplish tomorrow will never be accomplished if I don’t put in the work today.
Saban has been quoted as saying, "It's the journey that's important. You can't worry about end results. It's about what you control, every minute of every day. You always have to have a winning attitude and discipline, in practices, weight training, conditioning, in the classroom, in everything. It's a process."
Focusing on the future is simply distracting and anxiety-inducing. Focusing on the little things that you can accomplish right now is rewarding. You can’t always control the outcome, but you can control the effort you put in today to move you toward your goal.
I could go on forever discussing this all-important topic, but I won’t. Whatever your goal is you need to get busy with what you can do right now to accomplish it. So, I’ll leave you with these questions:
What can you do right now that will move you closer to your goal?
What can you stop focusing on that is only distracting you from what you need to do right now?
Once you know the answer to these questions, all that’s left is to let go of the things that are distracting you and throw yourself into what you can do right now. Stay in the moment, give it 100% of your effort, and you won’t be disappointed in the outcome.
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