Process vs. Outcome Based Living
Everything I was ever taught centered around a result. Whether it was learning how to bake cookies, writing a research paper, or playing water polo—whatever the activity was, the only thing that really mattered was the final product. Someone could teach me proper technique, but in the end, if I figured out my own way and “won”, then suddenly, no one cared about how I did it.
As it does in our performance-driven culture, the concepts I learned as a child and young adult carried over to my life as a young professional—a full-time “working adult”. In college, I worked hard and began to find my value in my toil. I received some sort of “high” stressing myself out and placing more and more activities and goals on my plate. Then I got a “real job”, graduated and got married—all at once. Oh, and before that, my now-husband (Harry) and I bought a condo. Before long, I lost myself in deadlines, social niceties and focusing on what others thought or expected of me. Is it because that’s all I was taught? Perhaps not always directly, but indirectly, yes. We can all read in between the lines, can’t we?
Several months ago, as I read Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird (book on writing—thanks to Sammie for telling me about it), I finally started to grasp the truth which needed to be drawn out of me. I began to understand how to write. I learned the only way to let it happen organically is by a faith-based rough draft writing process. Unexpectedly, all the pressure that was building up inside about writing casually misted away. I could see the world around me more clearly. I began to feel more deeply. And I stopped caring about what others may expect of me.
Before that, I tried to look at other books in the store, convincing myself that I had to decide what genre I was trying to write for, what my overall goal was, and so on. The outcome-based thinking and actions I had forced myself into made me feel like I’ll never be good enough. The old lie continued knocking on my heart’s door. Until now. Over the last year, my quest for rediscovering my interests in writing and acting were definitely the catalyst I needed to begin making the concept shift.
In the last couple of months, I set up a couple of private acting sessions in order to properly gauge where I was, what my strengths and weaknesses were, as well as figure out where I was headed with the practice. As all actors know, this art/craft must be fully felt, experienced, embraced and treasured to be truthful. That is how it is meant to be. How can anything be as it was meant to be unless we dive full force into enjoying and coming alive in the process? I am so glad that I began viewing acting as a process, as a journey for me, instead of feeling down because I was not producing all the results right away.
When we are obsessed with outcome, it is also easy to attach our self-worth to the task, which is not good. If we choose to focus on discovering and practicing our God-given talents, abilities, interests and passions—finding a way to express those—it will help us stay focused on process. So, are you more process or outcome driven? Why?