Episode 27: Process Over Product

 In Blog

Welcome back my friends! I hope you’re all doing well. I just have to say that 2019 is amazing. I absolutely love the clients and people that I get to work with and I’ve started some new connections this year and it’s just incredible. I love that I get to work with people on a very deep and intimate level and talk about things that matter most to them. I get to help them through thoughts and limitations that they’ve kept in the dark and silent and the best part is, they do work through them. They do overcome them. They CREATE their miraculous results and I’m just so grateful to be a part of it, to coach them through their trials, struggles, limiting beliefs and see them soar.

2019 can be your year, my friends. If you’re ready to make real change in your life and set big goals, maybe you’re ready to change the past and heal past hurts, set up a mini session with me and let’s get you on your way to freedom, to achievement, to making yourself so proud. Set that up on my website under the free coaching tab and let’s do it! www.thecatalystcoaching.com

Okay, so today I’m going to share a topic with you that will be very helpful in your life as it plays a tremendous role in mine as well. It’s the concept of choosing to enjoy the process, enjoy the present moment instead of solely focusing on the product of your efforts.  This is an idea I first learned from Thomas Sterner, who wrote the book, The Practicing Mind, a book I highly recommend to all of you.

I know for a lot of us out there we’re too eager for the product. We want to be finished, we want to be at the end already. We don’t really enjoy the process. The beginning is fun for the first little bit. You’ve got this fire, this spark, this vision of how things will be at the end, when you’ve accomplished your goal, when you’ve reached that end point. It’s like our New Year’s Resolutions. We have these goals and this excitement about how things will improve by the end of the year. So we set out being ever so diligent and then a few weeks, days even go by and that excitement wears off. You realize just how much work it actually is to go about your goal and it gets harder and harder and harder to stir up some motivation to continue. 

The practice feels like drudgery and a nuisance more than a delight and we lose interest, we miss a day, and then two, and then we give up entirely. 

Today I want to help you get passed these mental roadblocks and offer you a different perspective on the middle. I want to illustrate how the middle can be amazing and something to look forward to rather than an irritation or something to quickly get done so you can finally get to the good stuff.

We all want to just be done. We all want the product and we don’t like the process so much. The process is just something you have to do to get there. But what’s so interesting is that really, there’s never really a point where you can get to where you’re done. Think about it, whether it’s a skill, a relationship, a character trait. Once you get to where you thought you wanted to, there’s still so much more that can be done. We’re not satisfied with where we’re at and the end game just gets farther and farther.  Michaelangelo himself in his late eighties said that, he is still learning. He didn’t consider himself a master or done yet. We have this end product in our minds that we think we’ll be happy once we get there but once we’re there the finish line has moved up again and so we continue to work and strive never reaching the product and if we postpone our happiness, our joy until we get there, we might be waiting indefinitely.

We need to learn to focus on the process and enjoying the process over waiting for the product. Once I can do this, THEN I’ll be happy. Once our relationship looks like this THEN I’ll be happy. What I want to share with you today is, THERE IS NO THEN. The happy, the enjoyment, the satisfaction is now. 

So much of being able to enjoy the process is in our expectations. When I was learning piano and focused solely on the product. I wanted to play a piece a certain way. I had an expectation that I needed to be able to play it a specific way, I’d get frustrated anytime I’d stumble, which was a lot and I’d want to just walk away because it wasn’t where I thought it should be, it wasn’t at the end yet. When we adjust our expectations and I want to offer to even consider dropping our expectations the process turns from a nuisance into discovery. 

When we can pause our need for the end, for the product and focus solely on the present moment, of where you’re at right now, right in this moment, this point in time and not stressing that it wasn’t at the end yet, you can just be. We have to allow ourselves to be a middler – like that word? When we get passed the basics, passed the beginner phase but certainly far from the product, you become a middle -er, a middler. 

But too many of us don’t allow for ourselves to be middlers. The middle area is frowned upon. It’s okay to be a beginner. We give ourselves a certain amount of time and then after whatever that fictional amount of time is that you give yourself then you expect yourself to be somewhere else. You expect perfection, you expect to be further along, you don’t allow yourself to just be in the middle and enjoying the middle. 

Learn to let yourself just be a middler. The middle is an amazing place. The middle is where the most growth is. Some might argue that the beginning is where the growth is but I disagree. In the beginning we have that extra oomph, energy, direction, excitement, and motivation. Yes, it’s challenging but your mind is in alignment with allowing yourself to struggle.You have an expectation that you should stumble. Of course I’m making mistakes, I’ve never done this before. 

But, it’s in the middle where you really have to fight against your mind and wanting to jump to the end too quickly. The motivation wains, the energy isn’t as vibrant, and you’re going deeper and deeper into the process. It’s no longer acceptable to make mistakes, to stumble, to struggle. I think it takes much more stamina and thought work to move forward in the middle and that’s why there’s the most growth.

Each of us has some idea of who we want to be. What kinds of habits we want to establish. What kind of person we don’t want to be or habits we want to drop and when we think about what it would take to get there, we feel deflated a bit because we’re focused on how long it’s going to take. It seems so far away. It seems impossible. 

But what I want to offer you is that it only seems so far away and impossible because you’re focused on the product. You’re already looking at the middle, at the learning as something you just have to go through to get to where you want. But what if you could look at the entire process as delight. Not just something you have to go through and do, do the time, but to really enjoy, savor, and find joy in the whole thing.

We need to stop focusing on the product and start focusing on the process. The process is a beautiful place. Focusing on the product causes all kinds of negative feelings.

Anxiety, frustration, overwhelm, boredom, restlessness, impatience, and disappointment that you’re not there yet. But dropping those expectations and focusing on the process you allow yourself to just be. When you allow yourself to just be in the process it’s easier to let go of our attachment to the “product”. We drop the extra, unnecessary weight and pressure of needing to be somewhere or someone else than where we’re at now.

Before I found life coaching I had a lot of thoughts and feelings about who I was and who I wanted to desperately to be. I wanted to be charitable. I wanted to be unconditionally loving, forgiving, seeing the best in others. I wanted to be an optimist and I thought I wanted to be happy all the time. Then life would happen and I’d let myself down over and over and over again because I wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t the product of who I wanted to be yet. I wasn’t perfect and it felt terrible. I was resigned to believing that maybe I just wasn’t that kind of a person. Maybe I’d never be that kind of a person.

I was purely product focused. I only saw who I wanted to be and I didn’t allow any room for the middle, for growth, for learning and becoming. I was mad at myself for not being at the end yet. I created so much drama and pain for myself because of these expectations. It’s like when you pray to be a patient person and then you have a really stressful day the next day and you’re like, whaaaaat? Why me?! I didn’t ask for this! I said I wanted to be patient but we want the product without having to learn and become a patient person. We don’t want to go through the process. The process is uncomfortable and challenging and it doesn’t feel good because it’s not where we want to be yet.

But this thinking is a mistake. Growth doesn’t happen in comfort zones. Growth happens in the process. You don’t wake up being able to lift 50 pound weights automatically. You have to start at 5 pounds, then 8, then 10, then 12, then little by little by little you grow to the end product.

Allow yourself to be in the process. Allow yourself to be a middler. The middle is what you remember the most. It’s the struggle that teaches us. It’s the part of the process we’re most proud of because we recognize who we became by going through those little by littles.

Thomas Sterner says, “When you focus your mind on the present moment, on the process of what you are doing right now, you are always where you want to be and where you should be. All your energy goes into what you are doing. However when you focus your mind on where you want to end up, you are never where you are, and you exhaust your energy with unrelated thoughts instead of putting into what you are doing.”

Let me say that again. “When you focus your mind on what you’re doing right now, you are always where you want to be and where you should be.” Isn’t that good?

When you’re process oriented and not product focused you’re always where you’re supposed to be. It releases all the extra stress, weight, pressure of not being far enough yet, not being further along, not being closer to your goal. Practice focusing on the process and enjoy the freedom it offers you by allowing you to just be. There’s no where else you HAVE to be. You are right where you need to be. It’s a beautiful space.

So many of my clients want to focus on product and not process with their models. If you’re unfamiliar with the model or what I’m talking about go back to episode 10 and listen in because the model is an extremely important skill that uncovers what you’re creating in your life. What you want to be creating and what you don’t want to, the results you’re not happy with.

They go from where they’re at in this model they don’t really like because they don’t like what they’re creating, what they’re thinking and how it feels so they want to jump straight to the. Product which is to feel better. They want to jump over the middle to get to happyland. If our thoughts create our feelings and I don’t like how I’m feeling, I just need to think happy thoughts right?

While that statement is true to an extent. Yes, happy thoughts will produce happy feelings ONLY if they’re believable and you genuinely believe them to be true. But when you’re trying to hard to be someone you’re not yet it creates a lot of resistance, a lot of frustration, impatience, and discouragement. I always tell them, happy is not the goal.

They don’t like this much because we THINK we want to be happy. But I promise you HAPPY isn’t the goal. It’s not really what you want. What we want most is love, we want validation, we want appreciation, we want to feel connected. These feelings bring JOY – lasting JOY. And I love JOY because it allows for you to be a middler. 

When I first started doing models I know I for sure did the same thing. My thoughts were creating feelings that I didn’t like. I wanted to be happy so I just thought that changing that thought would make it all better but I tried skipping over a really crucial part – the middle, the growth. Sometimes we call this the river of misery.

Sounds good, right? The river of misery is when you’re in the middle, the in-between of your initial model, the painful, negative feeling model and the happy, everything is awesome model. From where you’re at to where you want to be. We call this the river of misery because it doesn’t feel good because you’re still focused on the product. Of getting to happy. I should be happy. I shouldn’t be feeling this way but if you’re feeling that way there’s a reason. There’s some growth there.

There is a way to allow yourself to just be a middler while still working towards the product. It’s knowing the product isn’t the key to your happiness and your joy, it’s knowing the process is where the joy is. It’s in each moment, each choice, each thought, each deliberate choice to think 1% better and not jumping to thinking thoughts 90% better. It’s in the small steps, the recognizing the minute progress and congratulating yourself each step along the way. It’s not in  reserving the gold stars for when you get there. It’s not in holding off the happiness until you’re perfect. Joy is found in the middle, in the present moment, in the process.

But we miss it so many times, we miss it because we’re too focused on the product and how far we still have to go. Even when we’re tempted to congratulate ourselves we stop and think, no, I shouldn’t be happy yet because I still have to do x,y, and z. 

Think about your relationships. Often times we get upset and cause a lot of pain for ourselves because the relationship isn’t to where we think it should be, where we want it to be. We’re too product focused and when we’re too focused on the product we miss the joy found in the process. We miss the moments where we can grow and amaze ourselves by our choices and what we choose to think about them. 

We think because things are perfect now, because they’re not calling, coming by, doing what we think they should be doing that we have to hold off some happiness, some connection until things are great but the middle is long sometimes and the middle gets even longer when we think this way. But what if you could just enjoy them in this present moment. What can you love about them right now, right where they’re at, right where you’re at? If there were no time frame that things had to be perfect by such and such. Could you enjoy them this moment?

When babies are crawling and starting to pull themselves up to walk we’re not worried that it’s not going to happen most of the time. Some babies crawl super early. My oldest started walking when she was barely nine months old and because she was the first I thought it was awesome but then by baby number four I was perfectly content to just let him chill for as long as he needed and Ii secretly hoped he wouldn’t walk too soon because I knew that once they started walking, whoa nelly…busy, into everything central had begun. But we just love them all through the middle. We love them in the beginning. We encourage, we cheer, we uplift. Then the middle, we just know with all confidence , it’s going to happen so we encourage, we smile, we laugh, we love, and we find joy all through the middle because we’re not worried about the product. About the end result.

Eternity is a long time. My husband offered me the best thought to try on a while ago and it made such a difference in my perspective. I had a few relationships with family members that wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I had all kinds of thoughts about it, thoughts that created a lot of pain for me. I was solely product focused. All I knew was the relationship wasn’t where I wanted it to be right now so I couldn’t find happiness or JOY because I had placed some fictional time frame on our relationship. I still want things to be different. I still have the product in mind and in sight. But eternity is a long time. We’ve had moments of pure joy and pure love and it’s felt amazing. I’m sure we’ll have many more moments like that again. I can rest easy in the middle loving, encouraging, inviting, smiling knowing that it’s my choice to value each and every moment. There’s no stress when time isn’t an issue. There’s no pressure or extra weight when I know we have all eternity to grow.

It’s when I add that time frame, the weight, the expectations, that I compound the problem with anxiety, frustration, resentment, disappointment, sadness. 

One thing I really like from Thomas Sterner is how he defines practice. In the middle moments we’re practicing. We’re either practicing indifference, just not caring, negative feelings, thought patterns, habits or we’re practicing thinking deliberately, with intention of reaching the goal.

He says, “When you focus on the process, the desired product takes care of itself with fluid ease. When you focus on the product, you immediately begin to fight yourself…The reason for this is not hard to understand. When you shift your goal from the product you are trying to achieve to the process of achieving it, a wonderful phenomenon occurs: all pressure drops away. This happens because , when your goal is to pay attention to only what you are doing right now, as long as you are doing just that, you are reaching your goal in each and every moment…When you truly shift into putting your attention on what you are doing right now and remain continually aware that you are doing so, you begin to feel calm, refreshed, and in control.”

I love that. You are reaching your goal each and every moment. My relationships took a huge turn for the better when I stopped expecting them to be a certain way. When I stopped holding these invisible expectations over their heads that they didn’t even know about and changed it just loving them. My goal was just to love them each and every moment then in each present moment when I deliberately asked myself, am I loving them this very moment? How can I love them right here, right now? I was always where I wanted to be. I was reaching my goal each second. I created love in that moment which is the product. That’s where I wanted to be. That’s what I wanted to feel once things were perfect and the best news ever was that I didn’t have to wait anymore. I could feel those things now. I could find JOY right now. I could feel calm and at peace right in this very moment.

Process over Product changes everything. It changes your relationship with your family. It transforms your relationship with yourself. It changes everything. You can love being where you are at any given moment while still working towards the product. This isn’t a, just don’t care concept or being indifferent. This is still wanting those things. Working towards the product. But dropping the weight, the pressure, the guilt and loving each moment for what it is. He uses the visual of keeping the product as your rudder for steering your ship. You want to steer yourself in the right direction, always working towards that path but loving the moment for what it is. When you are in the present moment judgements slip away.

The judgements come because you’re not further along. Things aren’t the way you think they should be YET so you judge yourself, the situation, the relationship, etc. When you’re focused on the process you allow yourself to just be, observing your thoughts, feelings, actions, and align it in each moment with the right direction – not the destination, then it becomes judgement free. It’s an amazing place.

Do you see how focusing solely on the product creates the stress, weight, pressure in our lives? We do this with ourselves a lot too. With my clients we do an exercise where they need to focus on certain things that they can love and appreciate about themselves. What’s fascinating is that when they share these things or they go to write things down they get frustrated because it’s not perfect yet. For example, one of my clients loved and appreciated that she reads and likes to read her scriptures. But almost immediately as she said and thought that her mind attacked her with, “yeah, but you don’t do it everyday.”

Product focused. It doesn’t allow you to feel JOY or happiness because you’re not where you want to be yet. It’s saving it for some future day when you get there but this is a waste. Enjoy those moments now. Give yourself the gold star now. You can find JOY in the fact that you love reading, that you have a desire to read. When you create that love, that feeling of being proud of yourself, appreciating yourself then the product falls in line. Because you feel joy for the scriptures and that you love them you’re more apt to take action and read them. When you’re berating yourself and feeling guilty the actions and tendency is to sulk, buffer, and more often than not, it doesn’t inspire or motivate to take the actions we want.

Enjoy being a middler.

Enjoy the present moment.

Enjoy the process while aiming for the product.

Judgement eats a lot of our energy. It redirects our thoughts in an unhelpful way. When you can stay in the process, in the middle, in the right now moment you’re always where you want to be. You’re achieving your goals again and again and again. Theres no judgement. There’s no hurry. You’re patient. You’re loving, encouraging, and recognizing that each moment offers you an opportunity to count it all as joy and when you feel joyful, loving, content, calm you take very different actions. You become a very different person and the desired product falls into place.

Be proud to be a middler.

Practice being process oriented instead of product obsessed. 

Let me know what you think and how this all goes for you. I love hearing from you. Thank you again for those that reach out each week. I love you for doing that. I love connecting with all of you and it just makes all of this so much fun. 

I would really love it if you are enjoying and learning from this podcast to leave a review on iTunes for me. It’s easy to do. Just rate the stars and add a little sentence or two telling others what you think and how this has helped you. It really makes a difference and I’m so grateful to all of you that have already left one. You’re rock stars and I thank you!

Okay, talk to you next week!

LDS Life Coach Hannah Coles


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