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Whether or not you have ever completed a marathon, I am willing to bet that you can imagine the thought process that one goes through during this extensive experience.
Presumably, marathon runners face feelings of doubt and despair as they consider how far away the finish line is. Some may even experience physical pain, making them want to quit.
However, studies have shown that over 90% of those who begin a marathon cross the finish line.
What do these people all have in common?
They trust the process because they’re confident about the end result.
Trusting the process involves truly believing that the end result of your goal will be worth all of the struggles that you have to face throughout the process of getting there.
Now, if you’re not a runner, consider this: Have you ever lived in a house while the kitchen was being renovated or some other type of construction was going on? The process probably seemed endless as you were living in the midst of dust, plastic tarps, and possibly even a “makeshift” kitchen in your living room. However, this inconvenience eventually blossomed into brand new construction that was undoubtedly an improvement from what it looked like before.
If you’re able to trust the process at a time like this, it means you can look past the mess and recognize the satisfaction that you’re sure will result, despite the current circumstances.
I have trusted the process in both of these scenarios, but there are many other life circumstances that ask for your patience, trust, and faith in the end goal.
In this article, I will talk more about what it means to ‘Trust the Process’ and how you can apply this idea to your own personal development. Then I will illustrate 8 simple strategies that you can use to ‘trust the process’ in your own life.
(Side note: One of the best ways to get what you want from life is to create and set SMART goals. To get started, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.)
Let’s get started.
What You Will Learn
- What Does “Trust the Process” Mean?
- 8 Ways to Trust the Process
- Final Thoughts
What Does “Trust the Process” Mean?
“Trust the Process” is a chant that can often be heard from crowds of 76ers fans. The “Process” is a strategy that was used by the team’s former GM, Sam Hinkie, prior to the 2013-2014 season. Coming away from a losing season, Hinkie formulated a plan to draft a team that would ultimately incorporate a star player, with the idea in mind that because basketball teams only have five players on the court at a time, a single player has the ability to greatly impact the outcome of a game.
Hinkie traded some of his top players away in order to be able to have the top three picks in the draft, allowing him to onboard some of the most hyped newcomers to professional basketball. Hinkie acquired several free agents in the draft by using this strategy, who were able to sign onto the team at an inexpensive rate, and could conceivably turn into superstar players.
The team continued its efforts to “tank” itself in order to continue to improve their chances of getting top picks in future drafts. Hinkie figured that even if a fraction of his draft picks ended up being exceptional players, it would still put their team in a better position than they were before.
Hinkie trusted the process by creating a plan and sticking to it, despite the naysayers. He focused on building a team one player at a time and didn’t let the fear of failing get in his way.
You can take this idea of trusting the process and apply it to your own personal development whenever you decide to make a change in your life. By focusing on your daily habits, your small victories, and the process of getting to your end goal, you can push fear aside and not allow it to distract you as you persevere to the end.
Being “goal-oriented” is a common buzzword in business these days, however, putting so much focus on your end goal can take away from your ability to be present during the process and add to your impatience when it comes to seeing results. We live in a society of expecting instant gratification, so you may expect things to happen quickly when you’re working toward a goal.
If your expectations go unmet, you may be tempted to give up. People forget to enjoy the road to success. But simply creating goals isn't enough. If you want to see progress, you have to commit to the process through your everyday habits. It’s actually the small wins that turn into large accomplishments.
If you can gain a sense of intrinsic motivation, you will be able to enjoy the process of reaching your goal–whatever that goal may be–and ultimately be more likely to ultimately reach it. No matter what your goal is, trusting the process of achieving it requires finding a sense of joy in all of the steps along the way, and being accepting of obstacles or setbacks that lie in your path. It’s about being mindful throughout the journey and realizing that you spend a lot more time throughout your life working toward your goals than you do celebrating when you actually achieve them.
8 Ways to Trust the Process
So how can you trust the process in your own life? Let’s look at 8 ways that you can use this mantra to benefit you in your journey to personal development.
1. Focus on the value you’re adding.
When you reach your end goal, who benefits from it? Is it just yourself? Or are you helping other people along the way?
Well, if your goal is to be a millionaire, you will need to be providing some kind of service or product that is valuable to other people in order to generate that wealth. This means that you will be adding value throughout the entire process of working toward your goal, even if it is just to one person at a time.
You can focus on the value that you’re providing for others during the process by setting small, attainable goals and celebrating the small victories. For example, let’s say you want to publish one self-help book within the next year. Attaining this goal may not make you a millionaire, but it could be a stepping stone to reaching that final objective, and you will be helping those who read that book along the way, which will add value to their lives.
If you feel like you are the main person who will find value in your ultimate goal, make sure to set process goals along the way to celebrate as you achieve them. For example, let’s say you didn’t meet your weight loss goal, but you went from going to the gym zero times per week to going five times per week. This process added a huge value to your life, despite the fact you didn’t meet your goal.
Celebrate everything that you do accomplish. It might take you a little while longer than you expected to reach your goal, but that is perfectly ok. You can learn to enjoy the process and the goal will eventually come around. You will also learn through your experience of setting and reaching (or not reaching) your goals how to set more attainable goals in the future.
2. Only worry about the things that you can control.
Going back to the last example, you don’t have control over how much money you end up making in the end. You only have control over the actions that you take to help you succeed. You can control the things that you set out to learn, the people that you hire to help you, and the experiences that you pursue. But in the end, the amount of money that this all adds up to can vary for a variety of reasons. However, knowing that you have successfully combined these efforts is in itself something that will continue to benefit you throughout your career.
People ultimately want to feel understood, come to concrete conclusions, and be able to be in control. But if you want to make progress in your personal development, you have to be confident in any factors that are out of your control. Don’t create any personal attachments to what “could” be. Keep a positive mindset and look for ways that you can appreciate both your good and bad experiences that bring you closer to your ultimate goal.
Until you come to realize that you can’t control everything in your life, you won’t be able to completely let go and live your life and allow amazing things to happen. You have to believe that good things will happen to you, whether you try to force it or not.
Think about the progress you could make if you could stop worrying about who you could be and spending all of your time and energy trying to control things rather than choosing to learn from every experience that you have.
3. Have faith in the unknown.
Part of trusting the process is having faith in the unknown and becoming comfortable with the fact that you don’t necessarily know how things will turn out. You get comfortable with being uncomfortable and are willing to follow the lead of where your life takes you. Don’t assume that everything that lies in the unknown is bad or dangerous.
Act with confidence when you’re faced with uncertainty. Life doesn’t offer any guarantees, so you have to revolve your life around the things that you do know. If you start to lose faith in the unknown, return your focus to your purpose and the acceptance of obstacles that come your way. Have faith in the fact that the hardships that you endure will teach you lessons that will bring you closer to reaching your goal. Embrace failure–because it actually provides proof that you’re making efforts to move forward.
4. Use what you learn during each step of the process.
Let’s say that you are studying to get your real estate license and you want to become one of the top real estate agents in your area. You attend seminars and meetings and trainings and talk to all types of people who have been in the business for several years.
Listen out for strategies that have been effective for people in the past or mistakes that people have made that have ended up setting them back. Look for themes in points that are brought up in your trainings. Build your knowledge on these things and then implement the practices.
Look beyond the surface of the strategies that you learn by doing extra research on your own or going to the same seminar more than once. You want to master the things that you learn before moving on to something new. This will help you make improvements in a variety of your processes that will eventually lead to your overall success.
5. Practice gratitude.
Your outlook on life determines your general feeling and the decisions you make. If you often find yourself focusing on your regrets, you’re going to prevent yourself from ever feeling fulfilled. You will also be unable to notice the good things going on around you at the moment or the positive changes that you’re making.
Practicing gratitude has been linked to having more positive thoughts and emotions, feeling a greater sense of meaning in life, and being more appreciative of each experience that you encounter. If you can practice gratitude, you can prevent your inner critic from coming out and simply accept and enjoy the present moment.
6. Visualize success.
The power of positive thinking has been studied and found to have significant impacts on people’s outcomes. What and how you think will make a huge difference in your life. Visualize all of your potential to help you bring that dream into a reality.
When you think about the things that you want to achieve in a positive way and talk to other people with optimism about how you’re going to reach your goals, not only will you be happier through the process, but you will also feel like you have more control over your life.
Finally, Thinking positively helps your brain release endorphins, which boosts feelings of positivity and allows you to maintain that beneficial attitude.
7. Ignore the naysayers.
You will always find cheerleaders on your journey to success who believe in you and your goals. These are the people who will be next to you when you’re celebrating your small victories and your ultimate success.
However, with the good comes the bad, and you will also encounter negative people who will want to let you know that you’re going to fail. Maybe some of these people are jealous of you, maybe they’re trying to play the devil’s advocate, or maybe they truly want you to fail at your endeavors. No matter what their reasons are, you have to ignore these people.
Not only do you not want that type of negativity to penetrate your dreams, you also don’t want it to hinder your motivation or stop you from moving forward at your current momentum. If you stop following the path to meet your goal, you will ultimately regret it. And you especially don’t want this to be due to someone else’s opinion.
Consider how Amazon started. They were simply an online book store. What if the people who were running it listened to those who said that it wouldn’t be able to go any further than that? Think of the massive amount of success that they would have missed out on. Pursuing your own success despite the negative comments of naysayers can also help inspire other people to do the same thing.
8. Embrace failure.
There has not been a failure in your life that has killed you up to this point. There has been nothing that you’ve not been able to overcome. Part of trusting the process means that you are able to trust the process of growth. You can’t grow if you don’t have the chance to do so–and there is nowhere to go if everything in your life is already perfect.
I would be willing to bet that you didn’t become the person you are today without taking advantage of some opportunities that you faced for growth. Let’s say you went through a bad breakup and at the time you felt like your life was simply over.
Or were you able to meet new people after your breakup and ultimately realize that the relationship that you thought was perfect was actually far from it?
If you can trust the process, you will recognize that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, whether you have just experienced a failure or not.
Achieving your goals isn’t meant to be easy. But when you learn how to trust the process and are able to be grateful for the progress that you have made, you will feel a huge sense of reward.
Learn to be happy in the present moment without rushing to meet a final goal. Be willing to be flexible and go with the flow. Learn to accept uncertainty–but always be certain that you can find growth in your struggles.
Consider these tips on how to incorporate trusting the process into your own life and let your life’s experiences shape you. In order to live a great life, you have to be willing to take action in the face of fear.
If you want to learn more about the power of mantras, check out this post about personal mantra examples. You can also get some inspiration from these examples of life mottos.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.