I’ve been talking to a lot of clients lately about process versus results.

Results are whatever you are trying to get–a goal, an outcome, the finish line.

Process is whatever you do to get it.

We are, needless to say, a very results-oriented culture. We love results. We love goals, and ROI, and the finished product. Well, we love the idea of it. We love the idea of being finished, of having the tangible thing in our hands–the money, the weight loss,  the marriage, the gorgeous leather jacket. What we actually love how we think it’s going to make us feel.

That’s where the slight hitch in our giddy-up comes in. 

Results are very often frustratingly fleeting, or intangible, or don’t live up to our expectations of them, or (the worst for us quickstarts) require long-term sustained action to keep them going. We get the money, the body, the leather jacket and then we’re confused that it doesn’t make us feel the way we thought we would feel. And we resent that we’re going to have to keep doing whatever it is we did to get there. Or we have the experience—the food, the vacation, the party–and our delight in it is slightly overshadowed by how incredibly fleeting it is and how soon we won’t have it.

This is where process comes in. This is the secret of the truly, wildly successful–they figure out how to love the process. While the rest of us chumps are just focusing on rewards, they are focusing on process. Making it better, more enjoyable, more habitual. The is why law of attraction savvy individuals like Jeannette tell you to figure out how you think those results are going to make you feel and then figure out how you can feel that way now.

I think you can also figure out how to feel that way throughout the process that you’re undertaking to achieve said result. Because the result is, for better or for worse (I think for better!), not where we spend most of our time. The process is.

Think about it for a second–most of your life is process–the stuff you do to get what you think you want. Brushing your teeth, going to work, a daily yoga or writing practice. There are also all kinds of internal processes (called thinking, daydreaming, shame-spiraling, worrying, fantasizing, etc.) but I will deal with those later. They get a whole post of their own.

Because we are not a very process-oriented culture, we often think of process as the slog to get where we want to go. We take the soul-crushing job (process) to get some manner of financial freedom to be able to do what we want in our “time off” (desired result). We put up with shitty relationships (process) to get the approval and validation (desired result) that it is supposed to give us. We deny our bodies the rest and the food that we love (process) to get a sense of accomplishment (desired result) from crossing everything off our to-do lists and/or keeping our body in line.

But these are all negative examples.

Let’s look at some positive ones.

You take a fulfilling job that makes you feel free all the time, not just in your time off. You have a satisfying, supportive relationship that reminds you that you are fucking awesome, as is, which in turn helps you step off your need for quite so much approval and validation. You “let the soft animal of your body love what it loves”–rest and nourishment–and witness your body cooperate with you in ways you’ve never seen.

Here’s the difference. In the second group of examples, there is an emphasis on making the process a positive experience. Deriving enjoyment, satisfaction, and pleasure from it. Ideally, you want to be enjoying some of the exact same feelings you think the result will give you. This is another way to look at flow.

And here’s the other secret-once you focus on the process and making it a better experience, your results get better. Because it becomes a practice to be feeling and experiencing whatever it is you want to feel or experience in your result. It gets you closer to your 10,000 hours. It aligns your vibe. And, as Annie Dillard so helpfully points out, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Okay, so you’re ready to shift your focus to process? Next time, I’ll share my favorite way to improve the most important processes your engage in–your internal ones. I swear, when you get this, it changes everything.