I went on a trip and never came back

“We are so often caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate the journey, especially the goodness of the people we meet on the way. Appreciation is a wonderful feeling, don’t overlook it.” –Unknown

In short, the journey is the destination. Bullshit.

I thrive on goals and destinations. I get enormous satisfaction in arriving someplace and accomplishing my big missions. Like the time I rode my motorcycle across the US for 7000+ km – I was extremely glad to have made it to my friend’s place in Los Angeles.

Here, imagine this and you’ll understand: think of sitting on your ass on an old medium-sized bike* in the cold (sometimes freezing) weather for five to nine hours a day. If that’s not enough for you, add a breakdown on the first day of the trip. Or the phone running out of battery just when you need to call the roadside service. Or the brand new tire getting flat well outside of town. Or get pulled over by a Texan cop for speeding. Or the scare of the bike stalling in the middle of New Mexico. Or all of those 18 wheelers surrounding the little biker on the interstates.

All in all, not a very pleasant experience.

Paul Merisalu passing a semi

Passing a semi somewhere in North Carolina

On the other hand, I rode my bike to the middle of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The only thing apart from the perfect Easy Rider experience was a tankful of cash and a crazy friend to ride with.

And I saw the Grand Canyon, BrBa locations in Albuquerque, had a $8 Miller Light during sunset on the Sundial deck in Atlanta. Above all, I met a bunch of amazing people and learned buttloads about the culture. Oh, and I got to ride really fast on the open roads. Let’s not forget about that.

So, I guess it’s not all bullshit about the journey being the destination. But I want to insert some science behind this claim.

What makes you happy when you accomplish something? What keeps you going for the next 48 hours when the brown stuff hits the fan two days before the big launch?

Meet dopamine. It’s the neurotransmitter that keeps you focused on your task and rewards you for the goal. It is one of your greatest friends – like the ones that make you laugh, help you learn and be more successful.

In short, it makes you feel good when you achieve your goal.** Now, the extremely simplified way it works is that you get a burst of good feelings in your brain and body when you achieve a goal.

The downside? It only lasts for a short while even if the goal is huge and takes months or years to achieve. Think about your graduation. For how long did you have that “I survived, I’m a total winner!” feeling? Half an hour? An hour? A few hours, tops.

It would appear that happiness, in terms of dopamine, is better spread along the road.

Think of it like gas stations on a road trip. You can’t have all the gas stations in the end of the road. They need to be spread out along the way so you can fill the tank as you progress on your journey.

So, on top of having big goals, set milestones, small goals, and really enjoy your daily victories.

You’ll still get to your destination but you’ll have enjoyed your journey way more.

*For those of you who care, the bike was ’96 Honda Nighthawk 750cc. The only year they made the awesome yellow edition. Back to reading…
**Don’t believe me? Look it up on Google or check this article or that article. Back to reading…

Paul Merisalu Filling up

Filling up on dopamine somewhere along the way…

One comment

  1. Hakukoneoptimointi · December 3, 2014

    Awesome post! Wishing you all the best for year 2015! 🙂