In two days, I’ll graduate with my Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Engineering. I won’t be walking in the commencement ceremony–explanation to follow–but many of my classmates will be. They’ll walk across our university’s stage, as their friends and family bake in the gym, waiting for the brief moment to yell like crazy in celebrating their son/daughter/nephew/niece/friend. Some of them will have jobs. Many won’t. Some will celebrate knowing they’re moving onward to new successes. Some will celebrate knowing full well they still fear their immediate future.
As I’m sure you can imagine, this moment is a culmination of many things for many people. Though for me, I like to see it as the next step in the process.
That’s why, today, I’m challenging you to make the same promise to yourself that I made to myself two years ago.
Stop looking for instant gratification. Start seeing success as a process–not as a result.
Sadly, we live in a society plagued with the promotion of instant gratification. Whether it’s the weight-loss supplements, 6-min abs program, or get-rich-quick scheme, it’s irrelevant. They all have the same thing in common: bullshit. I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase, “Nothing worthwhile will ever come easily. But do you believe it? Does our society believe it?
I feel that we get so caught up in shortcutting our lives in an attempt to reach success quickly that we forget the most crucial aspect of success: the process by which we achieve results. We seem to forget the hard work, the sweat, and the sleepless nights. We become unwilling to sacrifice, apathetic toward our future, and we knowingly make poor decisions with this senseless idea that things will still magically work out. Newsflash: they don’t aaaaand they won’t.
That’s why it’s so important for us to be cognizant of the process. Unlike many of my classmates, I’ve been celebrating this coming Saturday for the last two years. I’ve celebrated the completion of each semester. Hell, I’ve celebrated the end of each week. No, I didn’t do it by partying…all the time 😉 I celebrated my work each week. I celebrated the process that I was completing to achieve my goal.
And whether they’ll agree with me or not–though they’d be wrong not to–I believe that our successful graduation from college rests not on a single Saturday in May, with us sitting in a non-air conditioned gym, walking across a stage for our family’s and friends to yell. Our success rests in the sheer amount of work we completed. It lies in the preparation it took for us to reach this moment. It lies in the finals, the pop-quizzes, the hundreds of lectures. It lies in the process. (Have I said it enough yet?)
So, I ask them to celebrate those achievements with me. Celebrate the fact that we put our noses to the grindstone day in and day out. Let’s celebrate the accomplishment that is and was our continued self-discipline and willingness to stick with our goals. By doing so, we learn to see success as it must be seen and not solely at the moment we achieve. We’ll free our mind of this false sense of reality that is instant gratification.
We say we want to be successful. We say we want to help people. We share TED talks. We post motivational quotes. But what are we f*cking doing about it? Can we challenge ourselves to celebrate the grueling work? the sweat? the self-discipline?
If you can, may you internalize this mindset and never forget it.
Cheers ’til next Thursday.