We all know that in order to get things accomplished, we need to make the necessary plans, mapping out how we achieve the desired outcome. If you want to be a doctor, you need to go to medical school and pass the required exams and certifications, etc. Milestones to show you that you are one the right track.

But what is the real purpose of being a doctor? What is the true reason that YOU want this profession? Is it the infamous story of doing what you think will make your parents proud? Perhaps the stature of being ‘a doctor’, or you want to help sick people get better? Maybe the pay is what you desire most (and what do you want this money for?)? In all of these cases, the journey to ‘what’ is perceived as the desired destination (“become a doctor”) is the same… succeed at school, pass exams, residency and then voila – you’re a Doctor. However, the ‘why’ is different.

But what happens if you can’t get into the school you want, fail the exams, or it turns out you don’t like the sight of blood… What happens when you struggle, or even fail? We question our self-worth, doubt creeps in, depression is very possible. To avoid these things we might seek shortcuts or ways to ‘cheat’ to stay on track, degrading our value system. There are countless real world examples of people who have given up the moral high-ground or even broken the law to ‘win’… the 2008 housing market and economy crash comes to mind – as ‘successful’ people took increasingly high risks, in order to earn bonuses (I’m over simplifying this – but you get the point).

The solution to this lies in the reasons listed as to why you wanted to become a doctor in the first place. Is there another way to please your parents, garner enough prestige or the salary of a doctor? There are certainly more ways to help sick people than becoming a doctor.

I’m reminded of the poem ‘The Station’ by Robert Hastings and the often copied sentiment – “Life’s a Journey, not a Destination”. We need not to obsess over the goals we have set out before us or even the journey other people are on. They provide use, of course, they help us strive and feel good when we achieve. However, more often than not, the goal is an arbitrary way-point on the true journey. The goal is a quantifiable progress report – which has value, but is not worth obsessing over. If you are on the right path, making progress on your journey to the greater good you are trying to fulfill, then you are winning – how you get there is not important.

Be better today than you were yesterday (but not as good as the ‘you’ of tomorrow). Each day you are closer to the eventual destination that awaits us all, whether we succeeded at our goals or not. So appreciate the journey, use a goal to ensure you are going in the right direction, but worry less about being on time or who gets there first.

A life worth living will have some hardship and failure… so concentrate more on moving in the right direction and less on how fast you are going.