Where do you see yourself in five years?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
If you win the lottery what would you do?
We get asked – and ask ourselves – lots of goal-oriented questions. It might be in a classroom or in a job interview. Wherever it is – or whatever causes us to identify goals – we find that we are always looking ahead. We vow to lose ten pounds and fit into a cherished pair of pants. We save our pennies for a new couch or a necklace.
Looking ahead can be a good thing; it can motivate us and keep us going forward. On the other hand, becoming too focused on a goal easily makes us lose sight of the journey itself – an important part of any achievement.
When I taught parochial middle school there was a home on my daily route to work that was in perpetual construction. At first it was an addition off the back. Then it was a large front porch. One summer it was a paved garden area and a gazebo. Another time it was a garage. This went on for many seasons; for many years. More than a few times, as I would pass the home, I would see the homeowner standing back and admiring his work. It seemed odd to me because the entire project was never done yet you could clearly see by his stance that he had a real sense of pride in what he was seeing.
A few weeks ago, I drove past that home and saw that yet another new project was underway and it suddenly occurred to me that it wasn’t about the final project but about the journey.
The image of this man’s home now remains with me as an important reminder that even while my life often feels “under construction” it is important to step back and be proud of the progress.