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Be thankful for the journey (even when it sucks)

This kind of post can easily become super preachy, and I’m trying to avoid that, so let me simplify it out a little bit.

Your life is, essentially, a series of decisions that you make, then subsequently live through. We try to gussy it up in lots of other inspirational concepts, but in reality we all wake up (hopefully), do some stuff, do some more stuff, and respond to the consequences of what’s happening around us based on what we did.

Is this overly-simplified? Yes.

Is it still basically true? Also yes.

But we have no idea about the future. Micro-example: you go into work on a Wednesday and think “I have these 11 things to do.” Your boss races at you with three new urgent things. Your day is now completely different. You had no way of knowing.

Macro-example: lives taken too soon, etc.

If you add all this together, we’re mostly living in a world where we need to make decisions, but we have no guarantee the decision will lead to the right place, or the place we assumed it could when we made the decision.

An example from my own life

I went to graduate school in August 2012. I moved from NYC — where I had friends and a job, all that — to Minneapolis, where I knew no one. My idea was to study the organizational development side of companies, and maybe become a consultant or work in training.

That’s not how any of it worked out. I don’t have a job in those fields, and I’ve got a bunch of debt.

So you can look at it and say “Oh, that part of the journey was a fuck-up.”

It wasn’t, though. When I was there, I started this blog. This blog isn’t super popular, but I’ve met hundreds of people through it and gotten work. I actually got my job in Texas (where I am now) because my boss found a blog of mine mentioning Simon Sinek, and the CEO there loved Simon Sinek.

I have good friends in Texas and like being there, right? And you can argue I never would have ended there if not for blogging, and I’d never be blogging the way I do if not for grad school.

So the journey works in weird ways.

Example 2: I got fired from that job I moved to Texas for. So that sucks, right?

On face, sure.

But getting fired led me to do my own thing, which is better for me because of how illogically I think work is designed at most places. Doing my own thing freed me up to get a dog. I like my dog.

Trace the train: I probably don’t have a dog if I don’t get fired, I don’t get fired from that job if I don’t move to Texas, don’t end up in Texas without blogging, not blogging without grad school, etc.

Hi dog.

Third: got divorced about a year ago. SUCKS, right?

Sure, on face.

But it opens you up to new people, new experiences, new ways of thinking about your life. I found an entirely new community because of actions I launched after getting D’ed.

Stop me if you’ve heard this…

“… it’s not the journey, it’s the destination.”

Trite as fuck, for sure.

But it’s also true.That’s how things become sayings — because they have truth to them.

America (and much of the first world) is an achievement culture, meaning we focus a lot on the destination — i.e. the success or what was achieved.

Today on social media, for example, you’re going to see a ton of people post how thankful they are for their family. Great. That is hopefully true and not just curated whatever.

The family — of act of being in one, having one — is a destination in that moment.

The journey, though, involves fights, slammed doors, name-calling, 3am vomiting, hugs, tears, snuggling, reading books to kids, the whole shebang.

When you post that photo, what you’re actually thankful for is the journey.

The journey itself isn’t perfect, but that’s where the thankfulness comes from.

Being messy with life shit is, in fact, a thing to be thankful for.

It’s also much easier to grow from the parts of the journey that are a challenge.

So when you’re face down in the poop…

… it can be hard to be thankful, sure.

But try.

Because you’re really thankful in moments of success for the WHOLE JOURNEY to that moment, not that specific achievement.

The whole journey is ultimately your life.

Embrace it, yea?

Happy Thanksgiving. Keep the change, ya filthy animal. (Shit, I just crossed a Christmas movie with a Thanksgiving post.)

Ted Bauer

One Comment

  1. Happy Thanksgiving, my friend. And every journey has its teaching moments. What I have found is that too many people do not prepare themselves to gain from learning moments. Those who do not learn from history, etc., etc.,… You have a great journey and have learned to tell great stories about that journey. Sounds like a formula for continued success.

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