Three Taverns Church

“If Life Is About The Journey…”

5 Comments

“…and not the destination, why do I still work here?”

That’s the question I was asking myself on the drive to work this morning. I’d started my day reading a chapter in Zach Davis’ book “Appalachian Trials” and my mind was on the subject of my thru-hiking adventure next year. Running through my mind were the many accounts I’ve read of others’ thru-hiking experiences, and how they stated over and over that while reaching Mt. Katahdin in Maine was their ultimate ‘goal’, the hike itself was far more important than achieving the northern terminus of the AT.

I feel like a fraud today. I am, mentally, physically and financially preparing myself for the adventure of a lifetime, reading story after story confirming the saying, “Life’s about the journey, not the destination,” and yet simultaneously I hate “the journey” of my 9-5 work day so I can reach my “destination” of thru-hiking the AT next year. #hypocrite

I have two choices:
1) Quit my job
2) Don’t quit my job

If I quit my job,or find a job in a more personally rewarding career I will probably experience feelings of euphoria for taking a stand on the direction of my career and my life. But I’d also be swapping one set of stressors (unfulfilling work) for another (financial). I’d also lose my bonus next month and the chance to switch careers within my current company, both of which would render next year’s thru-hike nearly unobtainable from a financial perspective. So that’s probably not my best option.

If I don’t quit my job I will continue showing up but not really “showing up”. I’m an ENFP surrounded by ISTJ’s and ESTJ’s; these guys love this finance & budget stuff! They want to get promoted; I consider that a fate worse than death. Well, not really, but I don’t want to move up this corporate ladder. I look at my various bosses and think, “Thank God I don’t have to do that.” I finish every day emotionally exhausted, worn out from doing nothing but sit in front of a computer screen and work on Excel for hours on end. I don’t think that’s how this ‘career thing’ should work…so far, this option isn’t sounding great, either. But if I stick with it there’s a good chance I’ll be able to save enough cash for next year’s thru-hike, and I may be able to come back to an entirely new role. This knowledge lifts me a bit…until I come back to the realization that life is about the journey, not the destination.

What good is reaching the AT next year if I’ve hated every day between now and then? I feel that the pressing question is:

“How can I make the journey of the next nine months a valuable experience?”

In other words: How can I make going to work at a job I don’t like, in a career I’m not cut out for and will never really succeed in, be a successful journey and thus be true to life? Some thoughts immediately come to mind:

  • Find sources outside of work for personal fulfillment and growth. Perhaps I’m asking too much of my job; perhaps my career shouldn’t have to provide for my every emotional need…
  • Treat the tough work days like the tough trail days to come. There will be crappy days on the AT; all sources agree on this. I can treat my worst days in the office as opportunities to build up my mental toughness
  • Focus on the daily progress I make toward my financial goal. Realize that every day on this “work journey” gets me a few dollars closer to Springer Mountain next May
  • Remember that making a positive impression on the company now will directly impact whether they allow me to transition later
  • Remember that life involves pleasure and pain. Revel in the fact that I am alive and that I’m lucky enough to be struggling with these issues. View each challenging day as an opportunity to learn more about myself, to see each moment as an opportunity to grow

What are your feelings about the phrase, “Life is about the journey, not the destination”? Do you live your life this way? Do you have an example you’d be willing to share?

5 thoughts on ““If Life Is About The Journey…”

  1. Pingback: “If Life Is About The Journey…” | Three Tyke Thru-Hike

  2. What if life IS the journey. Not the big things, but all of the little things that add up to a life. I know it is easy to get tired and weighed down by the everyday. It happens to us all. Even though I am where I want to be, home with my kids during this phase of our lives, there are days that I get stuck in a rut and can find a million things to complain about or that are not good enough (why my life is somehow harder than someone else’s). It is easy to think things will be so much better/easier/more fun (I can really start living) when the kids are sleeping, someone can watch the kids overnight, we can go on a trip, vacation, a million different things. But in reality, this is LIFE here and now. I know, that at least for me, if I can’t enjoy the small things, then I probably won’t appreciate the big things either. When I get stuck in that space, I know that what I really need is not a life adjustment necessarily but an attitude adjustment. There are terrible days when I am in a great mood and great days when I am feeling lousy, even when everything is going right. No wonder life is such an adventure, as soon as you think you’ve got it all figured out, there is a surprise around the corner and I hope that on most days I can embrace it.
    Your posts are very thought provoking and it is very bold of you to be willing to share so much of your inner thought process. It sounds like for now you already know what you should do. I hope you can find a way to enjoy it without having to wish the days away. 🙂 You have a family that loves you and stands by you, that is a beautiful thing.

  3. This reply took me two weeks to complete. Sorry for the length, but I hope it’s worth the wait!

    When I first started reading this post and taking in how unhappy you are with your work life, the first thing that popped into my head was Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord.” I am reminded of a sermon given by Andy Stanley where he described an event that happened in his life. His house was getting remodeled, and he happened to be visiting the work site one day. It was in the middle of August in Georgia, so it was a nice, pleasant 98 degrees outside with 95% humidity. Just the kind of weather for working outdoors! 🙂 So he’s there with the site foreman, and they are both complaining about the weather and the grueling nature of the work.

    At that time, up drives a waste management truck to clean the on-site Port-a-Potty. Out of the truck climbs this hulking man, probably 6′ 6″ and 300 pounds, with a shaved head and covered in tattoos. He doesn’t say a word but just grabs his supplies and the “hose” and proceeds directly over to the Port-a-Potty to do the deed. Now, as harsh of an environment as that was for doing construction, just imagine how bad that Port-a-Potty must have been, having been sitting day after day in that oppressive heat, being used by a team of sweaty, nasty men who have been eating…well, stuff you’d eat at a construction site. Makes me want to wretch just thinking about it. But this guy goes in to that Port-a-Potty without a complaint, and for the next 15 minutes, all anyone can hear is him scrubbing away and running the “hose”. He finally finishes and comes out of the Port-a-Potty and starts to put his things back on the truck. Andy goes over and checks the Port-a-Potty, and it…is…immaculate! He said he’d never been in such a clean and pleasing Port-a-Potty. So he goes over to the guy as he’s about to get into his truck, and he says, “Thank you so much for doing such a great job!” And the guys response? “Oh, no need to thank me. I work for the Lord.” And he climbs into his truck, fires it up, and pulls away, Contemporary Christian music blaring from the open truck windows.

    Needless to say, everyone on that work site, including Andy, was thoroughly humbled and convicted. Here was a guy who, for whatever reasons or circumstances, found himself working a job that he likely never planned for or thought he’d be doing. But his daily quest as he went from job site to job site was do this incredibly dirty (and socially demeaning) work as a task assigned to him and only him, directly by God Himself. And with this attitude lived out each day, there’s no telling how many lives he directly impacted for the furthering of God’s kingdom (not to mention those like me who were indirectly touched by his work through Andy Stanley’s recounting).

    I say all of this to emphasize two points:

    1) The waste management guy CHOSE not to focus on how he felt about the job he found himself in, but instead CHOSE to honor God each day by doing the very best job he could, with the very best attitude he could muster. He recognized that he had the job because God wanted him there, and that was good enough reason to warrant his best. I can only imagine that being in a position like that would bring an appreciation for the things in our lives that we might not have otherwise chosen or things that we might take for granted. I can relate personally with a similar circumstance I found myself in last year. I had lost a well-paying project management job unexpectedly, and after being unemployed for four months, I landed a job working third shift at a commercial bakery.

    This job was exactly 180 degrees from what I was accustomed to. First was the unappealing work schedule. Working 11 pm to 7 am was not fun, and it was not when I ever thought I would be working. Second was the environment in which I was working. Summertime (even at night) in a commercial bakery meant temperatures ranging from 90-100 degrees and standing on a concrete floor for 8 hours at a time. Finally was the nature of my job: watching machines in front of and behind me spit out row after row of dough and ensuring that each bit of dough was just the right shape, size, and alignment in the pan. To say that it was tedious and monotonous is a gross understatement. I could not let my focus or attention waiver for even a moment lest an errant piece of dough cause the 40-year old machines to jam up and halt the production line. It was physically and mentally exhausting.

    But I realized that, while I never in a million years would’ve chosen to have this job given any other reasonable option, God placed the opportunity in front of me at the time I needed it. Looking back on it, it’s just one more instance where God knew WAAY better than me what was best for me. He provided for me and my family financially, but more importantly, he saw the job as an opportunity to grow me in ways I never would have otherwise. He taught me a new way to look at people. Which takes me to the second point…

    2. God puts us in jobs to positively impact the lives of the people around us. We rarely get to know our co-workers well enough to know all they’ve been through up to this point in their life journey where your paths have crossed. Your relationship with them may be the pivotal event in their life where God finally reaches them and draws them to Him. Or you may simply be one more “nudge” towards a path that God has intended for them but which they continue to ignore or resist. Either way, if we are not living for Christ in our lives (especially in the workplace), then we will not have the positive impact God intends for us. In fact, we may push them further away from God if our attitude is sour or we are only wrapped up in our own little world.

    So, does that mean that God does not want us to be happy in our work? That He doesn’t care about whether we enjoy our jobs or find them rewarding? No, I think He wants us to be happy and enjoy our work, but not at all costs. More importantly, He wants us to find absolute JOY in serving Him WHEREVER He calls us to serve. Again, it’s not about us; it’s about Him and glorifying Him. In my case, I left the bakery job after only five weeks, because I did not commit to a “third shift” lifestyle (sleeping during the day, working at night; I tried to also get things done during the day and it set me up for failure). God then blessed me with the job I’m in now. It’s a good job and has moved me more in the direction career-wise that I’d like to go. But the pay is 50% less than what I was making at the bakery (and the bakery pay was 50% less than what I made as a Project Manager). As a result, I have learned to depend totally on God for my financial needs as well as my spiritual and physical needs. And He has provided! I continue to tithe, and I pray to God, “I don’t know how I’m going to make ends meet this month, but I know that You do.” And He is faithful and has provided additional jobs on the side as well as gifts from family and friends. And I have had the opportunity to encourage and minister to and witness to people I otherwise never would have come across. I’ve had the privilege to shine a brighter light into my shop environment, to show people who may have a negative perception of Christians and “church folk” that there are Christians who will not judge them, but who will accept them where they are and love them unconditionally.

    Does this also mean that I don’t have a responsibility to provide for my family? That I can take any old job and “test God” to provide for me? No, I think God wants me to put my family ahead of my own “wants” and to strive to make the most of the gifts and opportunities He has provided. But ultimately, I think God just wants me to serve wherever He places me with a true heart, to glorify Him in every action, every thought, and every word. If I am truly seeking His will in my life and listening to His quiet voice each day, I will find where it is He wants me to be.

    • Hey fastmov4, sorry I haven’t responded. I was on a long hike, then I read your comment but needed time to think, THEN our house was broken into and our laptop (among other items) was stolen so I haven’t had a lot of chances to reply.

      Having said all that I have thought a lot about your comments and I have been praying for the things you say. I want God to shape me as He wills; I want His will to be done. I need his help to take myself out of the center of the picture I have of the world, and to put Him there…my ego isn’t thrilled about this. I’ve been praying for my coworkers, and for myself that I would be able to love them the way He does. I figure even if I can’t love my job at least I can try to love the people there.

      Then again, I get nauseous on Sunday morning thinking about going to work the next day, so all this is easier said than done. 🙂

      So when are you going to write your own post here? And what do you want to write about? Shoot me an e-mail or give me a call.
      RM

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