You’re going about your life, maintaining the status quo. You’re in the Pit of Ignorance (don’t worry). Then one day, you learn about “the big idea.” It blows your mind! The world is your oyster! You are filled with motivation, and it makes you want to achieve a new goal. You’re on the Peak of Enlightenment, but only momentarily.
Because you then realize: this goal is harder than you thought. It will take time. There’s no substitute for hard work and time. A long period of monotony ensues. You must slog through the Valley of Drudgery.
Days, months, years go by. You start making progress, and excitement returns. You’re ascending the Slopes of Soon. The closer you get to the goal, the more excited you get. And eventually…yes!…you hit your goal. You’ve mounted Goal Summit.
Most people I know feel this at some point in their life (though I doubt they’ve plotted it in Microsoft Excel).
It Applies Everywhere…
This little landscape applies to many goals. The “big idea” could be anything. Say, a new weight loss plan. Fitness is exciting, but the execution is painful. There’s a long slog through the Valley of Drudgery before the results really start exciting you.
Entrepreneurs get “big ideas” for new businesses, but actual entrepreneurship involves years of grinding. Little wins help, but it takes a lot of time and effort to reach Goal Summit.
And yes, this plot applies to personal finance, retirement planning, and saving money.
The FIRE community, for example, knows all about this landscape. Learning about FIRE—I could retire at 45?!—is mind-blowing. But that excitement wears off after a couple months. What remains is a simple truth: it’s hard to rush FIRE. You can only save so much money. And it’s going to take years and years before you reach your goal.
The important details come in two weeks. It takes another two weeks to create your master plan. And then it takes 15 years of repetitive plodding to execute that plan—a quick peak of excitement, then a long period of toiling.
Get Busy Living…
Have you caught the drift? Peaks of Enlightenment are short-lived. Goal Summits are rewarding but fleeting, too. Instead, most of life is spent in the Valley of Drudgery. This valley is where real life happens.
Well, shoot…that’s depressing.
Wait! Don’t cry a river yet. I have good news.
The good news is that we each have a choice. The drudgery can be boring as hell if we let it. We can get stuck in the doldrums.
Or we can flood the Valley of Drudgery with the simple pleasures of life and sail our life’s boat on a higher plane. The everyday mundaneness disappears. We’ve got a Sea of Simple Pleasures that are keeping life fun and fresh.
Full disclosure: it’s a struggle. I wish I was an ever-flowing fountain of flowers and butterflies and happiness. I suffer days of sluggish boredom. But most of the time, I’m able to make drudgery fun (as oxymoronic as that sounds).
Everyone I know traverses this landscape. Same for you, I’d bet. And that means the day-to-day tedium of life is either going to grind you down or fill your sails.
Get busy living, or get busy dying
Andy Dufresne, from The Shawshank Redemption
“Enjoy The Journey”
One of the earliest posts I wrote on The Best Interest features my terrific friend Tyler Socash.
Tyler hiked 7000 miles in 13 months, covering the Pacific Crest Trail (Canada to Mexico), Te Araroa (north to south across New Zealand), and the Appalachian Trail (Georgia to Maine).
I’m sure planning the trip was exciting. Who doesn’t like planning a big trip?! Tyler was flying high on the Peak of Enlightenment. And we know that finishing the hikes—especially the last steps on his final long trail—must have been exhilarating…a true Goal Summit. But do you think Tyler spent most of his 7000 miles deep in the Valley of Drudgery?
He was floating on the Sea of Simple Pleasures. Exploring new worlds and sleeping under the stars. Eating bowls of oatmeal to fend off “hiker hunger.” Meeting new hiker friends and “trail angels.” The journey is where life happens. If each step is a chore, you’ll never make it. That final mile is nice, sure. But it’s merely a fleeting bookend.
Summiting Mount Katahdin at trail’s end will feel great…for about an hour. But the glory will wear off. You’ll be left with either the memories of wildflower prairies and wild horses, or with the regret of sore legs and grimy discomfort.
From Enjoy the Journey
You want to get rich? You want to retire early? Or maybe you just want to get out of debt?
Good! Get after your goals. Take them one step at a time and enjoy the sights along the way.
Previously Published on bestinterestblog.com and is republished on Medium.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
internal images courtesy of author