A Coaching Power Tool created by Panagiotis Ntouskas
(Business Excellence & Personal Growth Coaching, GREECE)
Baby slow down, the end is not as fun as the start please stay a child somewhere in your heart Original of the Species by U2
Life as a journey
Life is a journey in every sense and on every level… we go from childhood to old age… from ignorance to enlightment… from not knowing to suspecting… from suspecting to knowing. If life is a journey then we are some kind of travelers. We travel through space and time. We travel with our physical bodies or sometimes without them within our imagination and within our emotions.
The traveler and the tourist analogy
What is the difference between a traveler and a tourist?
The tourist goes to some place for a week, a month or even a year but in their heart they know that they will return. The traveler goes to some place and they don’t really know if they ever come back.
I always remember this dialogue from a film I had watched in my twenties called “Sheltering Sky”. Sometimes I even ask myself
Am I a traveler or a tourist?
Let’s explore a little bit the concept of traveler. The traveler has realized that it is the journey that matters. The traveler really focuses on the journey. He/ She is not afraid of the unknown and is always excited about what is coming next. He /She is curious to explore new places both in and outside their hearts, both in and outside other people.
It is the heart and the state of mind of a traveler with all their curiosity that makes life so exciting. We all have experienced traveling and we all have experienced this feeling of excitement. Why then not bring it into our daily lives? We don’t have to get a plane or a boat ticket to feel like travelers. There are a lot of unknown places to explore within us and others. Just pause for a moment and try some mindfulness. Even a walk that you have taken a thousand times before, becomes different and exciting. And yes, the state of mind of a traveler is linked to a mindfulness state of mind. And this is something we all have experienced in our travelling as well. Can you remember yourself taking deep breaths while enjoying a beautiful countryside in some faraway land, wanting the moment to last forever? And can you imagine having this mindfulness state of mind of the traveler always in your daily life?
Journey vs Destination
Journey vs Destination really means focusing on the journey instead of focusing on the destination. It means not being attached to the final destination. It does not mean not having a destination at all. The destination must be there to inspire you to set out on the journey. The destination is your vision and your end goal. In between, there are smaller destinations and a lot of travelling. Reaching your destination is just a moment in time but travelling towards your destination is every moment in time.
Journey vs Destination means being present in the moment and enjoy the process towards reaching a goal. It also means being fully aware of the change process and things that need to be addressed along the way. Very often we need to be flexible and adjust the initial goals if the process takes us somewhere differently. As we embark in a process of change and on a journey towards reaching a goal, the initial understandings about the goal and our expectations might change. So, destination vs journey also means that we continuously examine where we are and where we want to be.
People that are too much goal oriented are likely to focus more on the destination rather than the journey. Being in action is good but being too much in action can sometimes mean that we forget to live. We forget to enjoy the process. If your client jumps from one goal to the other, make sure that he or she takes time to reflect on the accomplishments and celebrate the successes. People who focus on the destination rather than the journey often do not enjoy successes. They just rush after an accomplishment to pursue another goal.
Questions to ask clients that need to change the perspective are for example the following:
- What did you enjoy most in the process of accomplishing this goal?
- What was your biggest challenge?
- Was there any need to take different actions than the ones we had discussed?
- Did you feel any stress or unhappiness while pursuing this goal? Tell me more…
- Now that you have accomplished this goal how do you feel?
Possible answers to these questions they might show that your client did not really enjoy the process and does not value his or her success. There might be other reasons behind this but a possible reason is living on the automatic pilot and focusing on the destination rather than the journey.
Another way to support your client is by suggesting to your client to do a “slow down” exercise. You could suggest for example the following:
Wake up every day half an hour earlier. Do everything that you would normally do but do it in a slower pace. Try to be fully aware of what you do, be fully aware of your breathing, your thoughts and emotions. Try this for a week and share your experience in the next session.
Or the following:
Take a 20 minutes walk to a place that you have been before and you like. Try to walk in a very slow pace, observing at the same time everything around you. Try this for a week and share your experience in the next session.
The following visualization exercise could be also used in a session: Imagine that your goal is to reach a small island in the middle of the lake. You go there alone on a boat, paddling. As you paddle you realize that the landscape is really fantastic. You enjoy so much this trip on the boat and the beautiful landscape and you wish that it never ends. You decide to paddle as slow as possible to make the trip lasts longer and enjoy the journey.
- What emotions did reading this power tool evoke?
- Can you recall a moment of being fully present and focused on the journey? How did it feel?
- Why do people focus on the destination rather than the journey?
- Sometimes we have the opportunity to live wonderful experiences, but we do not manage to be fully present and enjoy them. Have you ever had such an experience? Do you remember why you did not manage to be fully present?
- Can you recall of a goal that you really wanted to achieve and you achieved it but after you achieved it you didn’t feel really happy? Describe.
- Describe a journey that you took and you remember as a great experience. Why was it such a great experience?
Journey vs Destination in a poem
Journey vs destination is very well explored in this popular poem written by the Greek poet Konstantinos Kavafis.
When you set out on your journey to Ithaca pray that the road is long full of adventure, full of knowledge. The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops, the angry Poseidon – do not fear them: You will never find such as these on your path. If your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine emotion touches your spirit and body. The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops, the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter, If you do not carry them within your soul, If your soul does not set them up before you.
Pray that the road is long. That the summer mornings are many, when, with such pleasure, with such joy you will enter ports seen for the first time; stop at Phoenician markets and purchase fine merchandise mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony, and sensual perfumes of all kinds as many sensual perfumes as you can; visit many Egyptian cities, to learn and learn from scholars.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal But do not hurry the voyage at all It is better to let it last for many years; And to anchor at the island when you are old rich with all you have gained on the way, not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches. Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage. without her you would never set out on the road she has nothing more to give you. And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you. Wise as you have become, with so much experience, you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.