If we imagine our lives as a many-branched highway system overlaid on the landscape of our time, we’ll notice that some roads are relatively level throughout, while others cover mountains, valleys, and a wide range of elevation differences. From a mechanical perspective, roads that are relatively level over distance provide greater fuel economy and, in most cases, less wear and tear on vehicles than those that cross over mountain ranges and pass through deep valleys.
Elation and depression are like the peaks and valleys along life’s roadways. Detaching ourselves from the outcome and focusing on vision and process in each of our decisions and actions will help us to avoid unnecessary emotional ups and downs.
Setting the end point, the destination, vision establishes where on life’s roadmap we want to end up in a month, a year, a decade, or a lifetime. Great importance lies in establishing and resolving to stay on track with a clear vision – in much the same way that to depart without a clear destination leaves us at the mercy of whims and wanderings. There cannot be much definition to successful arrival at the end of our journey without our having known first where we were going to begin.
What vision does not do, however, is determine the “how” – that piece is left for planning and executing during the journey. Staying anchored in our vision keeps us headed in the desired direction and optimizes flexibility of method within the bounds of acceptable approach. It helps us, for the most part, to continually see past the obstacles and detours along the way, our eyes on the prize.
Process represents the most involved part of the journey from the starting line to the desired end (which vision establishes) and addresses the “How” of the journey. The process package contains generous opportunity for learning, adaptation, growth, and application – the power output of life is applied during process. Vision has established where to go and process encompasses the active journey between the starting gun and breaking the tape at the finish line.
Process also provides the greatest opportunity to encounter peaks and valleys of elation and depression. Each checkpoint along the routing from where we are on our life’s map to where we want to be represents a decision – an intersection of highways. Which option we choose to take at each checkpoint will determine the type of terrain we will encounter. Some highways take the up-and-over approach to mountains while others take the tunnel-through approach, and still others take the go-around path. Each has its own pros and cons and produces a particular emotional response. Planning and well-executed decisions during process help us choose the most efficient routing and enable us to avoid the types of emotional experiences that cause us more wear than they’re worth.
The endpoint of one of life’s segments and in most cases, the start point for the next outcome provides opportunity for assessment of results projected (by vision) versus received (through process). A life set on manufacturing outcome without regard to vision and process (the what and how of the journey) can be full of frustration, fear, and uncertainty at best, and leaves much room for the emotional roller coaster of elation and depression. Though the outcome is the desired end, it is only holding onto vision and growing through process that can make it happen with any measure of intent and control.
As Jack Canfield has formulated, E + R = O; that is Events + Responses = Outcome. How we choose to respond to events we encounter along the journey of process will dictate whether we end up at the destination we envisioned and if so, how long and how much energy it will take for us to get there, as well as the severity of the ups and downs we experience along the way.
If we stay focused on our vision and, in full awareness, make wise decisions in each of our responses to events during the process, we will find ourselves achieving positive outcomes efficiently, leaving minimal room for the extreme swings between elation and depression that cause unnecessary wear-and-tear on us emotionally, mentally, and physically.