Doing vs. Outcome

It’s frustrating not getting what we want, especially when much of what we do is to get what we want. Here are the reasons why understanding doing vs. outcome will help you appreciate each day more.

I’ve studied Happiness extensively for the past few years. I’ve done this partially for myself and partly to help those around me who seem to find it increasingly challenging to maintain Happiness. At first, I wanted to prove/disprove the money can’t buy you Happiness claim. Next, I should research whether or not I can get away with capitalizing Happiness.

Process vs. Progress

A theme that many struggle with is the notion of Process vs. Progress or Doing vs. Outcome.

The idea is that by consistently writing over weeks and months, I’ll develop more lasting Happiness with the consistent process of writing than I will with any progress I might acquire from my writing exercise.

Stated differently, I’ll attain more Happiness from the output I’ve completed than I will with the outcome—the rewards–I might get from what I write.

I believe it. It makes sense, especially after what I learned from Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life.

We Have to Do the Doing Part

My problem is with the doing part. We have to do the process part first, then get the progress. We have to output something to earn the outcome from it.

For example, I’ve had this idea sitting in my phone notes for over a week now. I’ve promised myself a Starbucks coffee for writing, and I still haven’t got myself up early enough to write about it. I, the guy who wrote the short but sweet Don’t Wait post. How can I expect others to take my advice if I don’t?

I believe that it is possible, or even likely, yet I don’t get out of bed in the mornings. It just doesn’t hurt much to stay in bed. Getting up can be very tiring, especially at 5:00 in the morning.

Here is what makes it—me—even more ridiculous. For the sake of argument— I love arguing with myself­—let’s say that getting an award or money for writing would bring more Happiness than the process. If I don’t write something, then there is nothing to get an award for.

No output, no money, or Happiness. At least not likely.

As Stephen King wrote in his newest book.

“That no one will ever see it, except maybe for Alice Maxwell, doesn’t phase Billy in the slightest. It’s the doing that’s important.”

– Stephen King, Billy Summers

Sunshine Peak
Because hiking is the process that you need to do to reach the outcome of the summit.

See that little bitty me near the top of that ridge?

Something to Do, Something to Love, and Something to Hope For

“The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

– George Washington Burnap

Much of what you do is for what you want. You have something you hope for so you take action to make that hope a reality. That is ideal as long as work a lot, hope a little, and expect less.

I haven’t read Mr. Burnap’s book. Even though it looks extremely boring, I’ll add it to the list. The advice seems good, though. It would be best if your thing to do is either for what/who you love or for something you’re hoping for.

It also helps if you enjoy the work, in other words, if you enjoy what you’re doing. You’ll enjoy it more if you maintain your expectations and don’t base the enjoyment of what you do on the outcome.

By that same token, you have to do the action to get the outcome.

“Work a lot, hope a little, and expect less.”

– Shayne Seymour

Find an Excuse to Do

Then I saw an opportunity. My kid needed a ride to the airport for a 6:30 am flight. The rest, as they say, just happened a few minutes ago. I somehow got up, took them to the airport, and here I am, 309 words in at 6:20 am.

That’s the number of words I wrote in total this morning before this sentence. Ok, now it’s 1418, assuming numbers count as words. 1424.

Disclosure: I use the Amazon Affiliate Program, and I will get a small commission from the sales of Rapt Attention and the Focused Life purchased via the above link.


What do you think that you should do more to get better outcomes?

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