Often we’re so focussed on the outcome, the result, that we lose sight of being fully present in the moment. But flowing with the process instead of constantly thinking of the end product increases our chances of succeeding, being more productive, or inculcating a new habit with ease.
In this episode I’ve shared examples of how paying attention to the process instead of the product helps us to:
- Reduce overwhelm and stress
- Be less dependent on validation
- Lower our expectations in a healthy way
- Avoid comparing our achievements with others
- Find joy and fulfilment in doing the work, creating, and developing good habits
Listen on the embedded player below, or on your preferred podcast platform. If reading is your jam, then scroll down for the transcript. Enjoy! 🙂
“You’re thinking and overthinking and so focused on the big thing, that you’re not able to focus on the small thing, the present thing. So think of whatever situations you do this in, and then ask yourself, “How can I turn my focus to the process? How can I turn my focus to creating systems?””Susmitha Veganosaurus – The Feel Good Factor Podcast
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Transcript of Process versus Product: focus on the flow instead of the goal
(gently edited for a better reading experience)
Hello! I hope you’re having a lovely day. My week has started off great, I got so many things done. Yesterday after a really long time, I pulled out multiple sets of my Tarot, Goddess, Angel cards. I have so many different cards that I read. It’s been many years since I did a reading for somebody else.
Usually I just pull a card for myself when I feel the need for guidance. Once in a while, I offer this to my newsletter subscribers too. Like in my last newsletter, that I sent last week, there was a little message at the bottom, a secret message, asking people to send me a reply if they would like a card reading done for them. And usually I put it in the post script so that it’s like a kind of a reward for whoever has read through the whole newsletter. At the end they get to see this.
You know, I do simple quick readings like that once in a while
But a proper full on reading, just sitting there reading out the cards and guiding someone through it, that is an experience which I absolutely enjoy. It lights me up! I’m in the flow when I do it. But for some reason I don’t do it all the time. I used to do Tarot reading professionally for many years, but somehow that kind of dwindled off while my other interests grew. And so you know, it’s very rare when I do a reading for someone.
Yesterday when I did it, it felt so good. I’m like, “God, I should do this more often. This feels so nice!” And the cards are a lot of fun. They never cease to surprise me or impress me. No matter how many years you do this for, it’s always very amusing and amazing the kind of on the dot messages that come up.
It’s even more entertaining sometimes when the reading is kind of all done and then we’re shuffling to put the cards back, slowly closing it up, and then some cards fall out of the deck. And then they’ll have the precise message, like the extra boost of message for the person, and it’s always like, “oh wow, this is so fun!”
So I was thinking of why I don’t do readings anymore. What is it that has stopped me? One of the things is, I think a hesitation… or a focus towards the end goal. Like, “how helpful will this reading be to the person? How much of the guidance will they actually put into practice? What happens after the session and what is the impact that has come out of it?”
When the focus is too much on those things, it takes you away from the flow
But instead of focusing on the end goal, on the end product, if you focus on the process of it, it makes a world of difference. You’re just so much more in flow and it comes with so much more ease. So naturally the words flow, the communication flows.
And I don’t have to think about, “okay, am I communicating well? How is this person feeling? How will they feel later?” None of it! My job is to just sit there, open the cards, and go through the process of the reading. If my focus is on that, then I feel like it doesn’t stop me from reading more and I can do it a lot more often. Get into that energy and feel its benefits even for myself.
So that got me thinking of this whole concept of process versus product
This is something that I kind of had an idea about somewhere at the back of my head. I’m like, “yeah, you know, this is what I should focus on.” But I didn’t articulate it so well. I didn’t know it in so many words, that the concept is called “process versus product” or “process versus goal.”
Last year, I read Scott Adams’ book. It’s called “How to fail at everything and still win big”. If you don’t know Scott Adams, he’s the creator of Dilbert. And Dilbert is a comic strip series. It’s very, very popular. It’s quite old.
It used to be published quite regularly in newspapers. And then of course, once it became more common for comics to be published online it became even bigger. So his book has lots of interesting and fun, introspective information that he has shared from his own life and experience.
One of the chapters that stood out quite strongly for me was this chapter about process versus goals or systems versus goals
So the basic idea is that, when we want to develop a new habit, when we want to get something done, when we want to just move forward, and you know, move ahead in life, instead of focusing on the end goal or the end product, the result, we focus on just being in the process. In just doing something.
Getting stuff done, instead of worrying about what will happen once it’s done. Then the chances are much higher of us actually managing to succeed, actually managing to get anything done at all.
For example, a lot of people generally focus on health, fitness, weight loss
You know, in January when the year starts off, people are like, “Okay, I’m just going to lose 20 kgs,” (just an example). “So I’m going to lose 20 kgs in two months”, some kind of goal like that. And then they start working out with that goal in mind.
But we all know that very few new year’s resolutions of this kind are actually successful. They don’t last past maybe even, you know… beginning of February or mid Feb, it’s all dwindled away. What is the reason for this?
The reason is you’re focused on the goal. You’re focused on that 20 kilo, that number, of losing it. And then when you start going to the gym, or running, or swimming, whatever it is, and you start doing that every day, or a particular number of days a week, what happens is you start looking at the weighing scale every single time, right? Because that’s your goal.
And you see that in two months… “*tsk* I said I’d lose 20 kgs. But in two weeks I also have not lost two kgs or three kgs. How will I do it in two months?”
Then because your focus is on the goal, you start feeling disheartened
And slowly that motivation, all of that, just goes away and then you give up. So this is an example I’ve given with weight which is kind of a common thing. Personally, I believe we should be focusing more on being healthy than worrying about our weight, because all of us have different body types and whatnot. Well that’s a conversation for another day.
But whether it’s this example or whether it’s getting certain things done… say a project, you want to get something done, again, a lot of people have the end goal in mind.
I’ll give you a meta example of me recording this podcast episode. My end goal is, I have published the episode on my website and everything, and then I have so many listeners listening to it. If I have that end goal in mind, then what happens is my focus is there at the end, and I don’t really enjoy the process of it. And sometimes it gets too much!
It feels like too much because I’m expecting too much of myself, so then I break it down into a process oriented method
So what I do is, “okay, what I’m going to do is record a podcast episode. That’s it. That’s all I’m going to expect of myself.” That is a chunk, recording the episode. Not publishing, not editing, none of that.
So that means one chunk, and while I’m doing that, while I’m doing this now, I’m completely focused only on this. Right now I’m not thinking about, “okay, what kind of impact is this going to have? Who’s going to feel like this has made a difference in their lives? Blah, blah, blah.”
All these things which are actually the original inspiration, or original motivation to create the podcast, or any content for that matter, I’m not focused on that.
Instead I’m only focused on talking to you right now. That’s it, just press record and then talk. That is the focus on the process
So once the first chunk is over, I can decide, “do I want to break or do I want to continue with the next part the next chunk today?” So which is the editing of the episode and removing all the “ums” and “ahhs”. And believe me, I say a lot of those. I need to do a lot of work to get them out of the audio. Otherwise, it may sound annoying.
And then you know, removing things that really didn’t need to be on the episode. That’s a lot of work. Editing takes at least twice the amount of time it takes to record. Especially if you’re someone like me who’s a bit particular about getting a tight, good quality episode out there.
So then when I’m editing, my focus is on the editing, just getting that done
Since it’s such a long process, it’s like, “okay, I’m going to do 15 minutes of editing for now.” So I do 15 minutes of editing, and then I’ll take a break and go walk around a little bit, and all that. And then come back and continue, with plenty of breaks in between.
So then again, that is a focus on the next chunk. After the editing is done, the next mini goal, part of the process, is to publish the episode. Once the publishing is done, the next is getting a transcript of the episode created. Then after that, getting the episode art created. And then finally it’s publishing it on my blog on the website.
Now if I look at all these tasks… and these are the main, main tasks that I’ve explained to you. I won’t go into little details about the podcasting process because that’s probably not going to be of interest to you. But as an example I wanted to give you an idea of the number of tasks involved when it comes to one episode being published out there.
But if I think of it as, “Oh, I published the episode, it’s all ready”, and I picture only the final page on my blog with the transcript and the show notes and everything in place, then it can get overwhelming. Because I’m like, “Oh my God, there’s so much work to do!”
When that happens, when you’re overwhelmed with that final, big project, the end of that big project, you’re thinking only of that.
You’re overwhelmed. Then you lose interest. You lose motivation
And this is a reason I podfaded in fact. Because I was too focused, putting too many expectations on myself. So there’s this big chunk of last year where I just didn’t record podcast episodes, didn’t publish them. I just, I basically ignored the podcast for months together. And that’s pretty sad, right? Because I… if you’ve been listening to my show, it’s not once that I have mentioned how much I love doing this. And how much I love connecting with all of you.
So it’s pretty sad that because of focusing on the end goal, because of worrying about that, I lost the joy of actually enjoying the process of creating something that brought me joy. Made me feel in the flow. And also brought joy to the world.
So this is the magic when you switch to process versus product
Ever since I started focusing only on the process, instead of saying, “On this particular day in the week, I should have a published podcast page on my website”, I’m like, “Okay, I’m just going to record. That’s it.”
“If I’m not able to continue on, do any of the next steps today, no problem. Tomorrow if I can’t do, no problem. My job right now is to focus on only doing the next thing, the next step. You know, just working on the next chunk of things.” Ever since I started that. I’ve been very, very consistent with the publishing of my episodes.
Another situation where it’s advantageous to focus on the process versus the product – when you are creating something
Say for example, if you’re cooking a big meal for a party at home. You know you’re going to have guests over and you’re cooking a big meal.
You have this in your mind like, “oh god, okay, I have to make all these dishes, and have to arrange them this way. And then I have to set up the chairs I have brought. Then people have to come. I wonder if they’ll like it. How much will they enjoy it?” And all these things.
Instead of focusing on that, if you focus on say, “Okay, this is the dish I’m creating. So I’ll just create this right now.” That’s all. It doesn’t matter if somebody likes it, if they hate it. It doesn’t matter. It’s not about impressing somebody. It is something that you are creating with love, and that’s all matters.
So then when you do that, and go through the entire process in a step by step way like this, then ultimately, the validation won’t matter so much
I mean, we all like to be praised. We all like to be appreciated. No doubt about that at all. So it’s nice if somebody comes to your house and they eat what you’ve cooked… Or anything else that you’ve created, like say, if you’re teaching a class and the students in your class are responding to you and saying, “this was a great class, you teach really well”.
Whatever situation, it’s nice to be appreciated. It’s nice to be praised. But the importance of that goes way low. Your dependency on that praise, that result becomes very low when you focus on the process instead of the product.. Whatever benefit you’re supposed to get out of this experience, you’ve already got most of it in the process
So the product doesn’t matter. It will do its job when it’s supposed to do, how it’s supposed to do
So if you’ve cooked that big meal and arranged your house, but done it in a peaceful way, one thing after another. Without stressing about impressing anybody, without stressing about being perfect, without stressing about how the result is going to be. When you do it that way, very chilled out, easy going, in the flow way, then that process itself, of creating that meal and putting everything together, that itself will be so joyful to you.
Finally say the guests don’t arrive, you were expecting ten people and only three people came, you won’t feel bad. Or all of them came, but not one person came and told you, “oh wow, this was fantastic. It tasted so good. Thank you.” It won’t matter because for you the joy has been mainly in the creation process.
And of course you’re going to enjoy whatever you have cooked. Whatever you’ve prepared, you’re going to enjoy it. The same thing happens to me with the podcast too.
Earlier I used to be focused on numbers very strongly
I’m like, “okay, how many people are listening?” *refresh, refresh, refresh* “Okay, how many downloads are there, how many people are listening to this? How many people are leaving me reviews? How many people are sending me a DM on Instagram or sending me an email telling me how much they love the show, or how this made an impact on them.”
I used to be very focused on that, especially in the initial, you know, months of creating my podcast. Even up to that one year numbers mattered big time for me. But after the whole podfade happened, and then I came back, now the numbers don’t matter to me so much at all.
You know what? I’m putting my heart and soul into this. I’m enjoying the process of creating this podcast. This episode. And then later because I’ve shared the information which I feel is helpful and interesting, I’m only going to enjoy listening to it again. While I’m editing also, when it’s done. And then again when I listen to it, I’m going to enjoy it.
As far as I’m concerned, I did it for my own enjoyment, my own benefit. Wherever it reaches, however many people it reaches, and whatever impact it makes on their life, all that is wonderful…. It’s a bonus!
My creativity, my flow doesn’t depend on that
I may be inspired… when somebody sends me an email I feel very joyful. I mean, it’s so nice, right? When somebody reaches out to you and says, “I listened to this particular episode,” or generally, “I listen to your podcast, and this is the kind of difference it’s been making in my life”.
I mean, it just fills my heart up with so much joy, so much love. And I feel like a burst of, you know, motivation to keep doing this! All that happens. But if it doesn’t happen also, it doesn’t matter. I’m not dependent. That’s the difference, process versus the product.
Look at all the situations in your life, if you’re a student for example
Usually if you’re a student in college or school, your focus is always on the next test, the next exam. Instead of looking at that goal in the future, you forget that for now, of course exams are important, but focus right now on learning.
“Today, what am I reading? What is the lesson that was taught in class? I’m going to focus on tha, I’m gonna listen. I’m going to absorb, and learn it.” So then your focus is on learning. Your focus is on the process, versus, “what questions will come in the exam? Then I have to focus only on that.” And you know, “how well will I do?” The worst thing, “how will I do in comparison to my classmates?” You know, comparison is the worst thing ever!
So all these end goals, these products you just put them aside and you focus only on learning. On enjoying the process of learning a subject.
Or you take any other situation, you know. I gave you an example of a project, about cooking at home, about an exam, so you can figure out in which situations of your life, which areas of your life your focus has been on the product. Because of which you’re finding a lot of blockage. Either because of overwhelm, or this “analysis paralysis” like they say.
You’re thinking and overthinking and so focused on the big thing, that you’re not able to focus on the small thing, the present thing
So think of whatever situations you do this in, and then ask yourself, “How can I turn my focus to the process? How can I turn my focus to creating systems?”
Now what is creating systems? For example, the first thing, the losing your weight thing… Instead of focusing on, “how much weight will I lose, by when”, which is the product, you focus on the system which is, “I will go to the gym every day, or I will go to the park twice a week, or swimming three times a week.” Whatever is okay for you.
You don’t worry about what others are doing, you put systems into place
And then it’s not about actually even going and working out or walking or swimming. It’s about just going there. That is the system, that’s it. Once you get there obviously you’re going to do it. In some rare cases. If you don’t feel like doing it, come back, no problem.
So then, when you’re focused on the system, you’re only focused on the next thing. You’re not focused on the end goal, and because of that, you are very likely to actually pick up the habit and continue it in a very, very healthy way.
So yeah, I really feel, shifting the focus from the end goal, the product to the process and creating systems for myself, has made a world of difference in my life. Especially in terms of having peace of mind.
I don’t stress about things
I don’t think of, “okay, what will be the end result?” I don’t think, “okay, how many students are going to come to my class whenever I announce it?” I just focus on what is the next thing I do, what is the next chunk that I can focus on. The little, mini, chewable, digestible, easy to do chunk. And then I only focus on that.
Once it’s done, then the next step, then once that’s done, then the next step, and so on. It makes life a lot more easy. Feels so much simpler. You can flow through your days, you can flow through your work. You can flow through whatever it is you want to do with a lot of ease, very, very gracefully.
And the funniest part is you think that focusing on the goal and pressurising yourself is a way to achieve things
That’s what a lot of us have been told. That whole hustle concept. But honestly, you will get a lot more done, you will succeed in many of your intentions, many of your goals by just focusing on the process and not pressurising yourself. I can just vouch for this. In many, many areas of my life this has worked beautifully.
So think about it, and consider doing this for yourself too. I’m sure you’re already doing some… there are some areas of your life where you’re already, without realising, like I used to before without actually articulating it in so many words, you’re probably focusing on the process more than the product. Compare that with the areas of your life where you’re focusing on the product instead of the process. And you will see the difference.
Then yeah, share with me. I’d love to hear back from you!
Let me know what resonated with you in what I’ve shared. And how this is already a part of your life. I’d love to hear all your thoughts on this whole concept of focusing on the process versus the product.
So yeah, I was telling you about my newsletter when I was talking about the Tarot reading. If you aren’t a part of The Feel Good Tribe then sign up. My newsletters are filled with lots of information, which I have been told is quite useful. Subscribe. You’ll get a welcome email as soon as you subscribe. Just hit reply and let me know your thoughts. Let me know about yourself. I would love to have you as a part of The Feel Good Tribe.
Transcribed using Otter
“I’m a Spiritual Vegan Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur. I read voraciously, find humour in most things, and believe kindness and authenticity can make this world a happier, loving place.
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