Delayed gratification has long been touted as a strength, particularly in pursuing ambitious career goals. As a former elite athlete, I get it. However, does the relentless focus on the long-term endpoint cause burnout before reaching it?
In a recent conversation with Alex Cech, Olympian turned innovator, she shared a profound perspective:
"It's about how you enjoy something. You can still have this kind of endpoint in sight, but you don't delay your enjoyment until you get to the endpoint. You can actually enjoy the process along the way and have faith or trust that you will still get to the endpoint."
Like many athletes, her sporting career had been about delayed gratification. As she transitioned from her sporting career to work in the green energy sector, she realised it was the wrong way around, and perhaps she’d missed out on some of the highs.
“if I maybe chilled and enjoyed the process a bit more, it would have been more fun.”
This is a lesson we can all learn from, as Alex and I discussed how this applies to sports and building careers and businesses.
Celebrating the wins as you go along is crucial - appreciating the beauty of working hard to achieve your goals is what it's all about. From busting your lungs rowing with a team to building businesses, enjoying every step [or as much as possible] of the way is important.
The key to enjoying the journey is finding alignment with your goals. Love who you are while striving towards your long-term goals. It might mean something different for everyone, but the point is not to delay your enjoyment until you reach it. Celebrate as you go along!
Reflect: are you enjoying your career?
How aligned am I with the purpose of my job?
What (and who) do I have planned in my diary for the next 7 days and how much will I enjoy it?
What would my week look like if only I did what energises me or moves me forward?
Am I holding myself hostage to someone else's expectations or me?
How do I recognise progress towards my personal goals?
When did I last celebrate a small win?
I encourage you to assess if delayed gratification hinders your enjoyment of the present. Embrace the journey, as delayed gratification alone may not be the key to success. Are you sacrificing the experience of living in pursuit of career success? When did you last allow yourself a moment to celebrate your achievements?
Learn to love the journey before you burn out - delayed gratification isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Check out the full podcast episode with Alex Cech here
When you're ready to design and implement a lifestyle and career you love, don't wait - get in touch here firstname.lastname@example.org