Happiness is not a destination

I love the movie "Bridget Jones Diary." Any movie that begins with a women listening to sad FM radio and lip-syncing Eric Carmen’s All by Myself into a hair brush has my vote. I used to watch it on VHS. 

The opening scene though...

The opening scene though...

There's a generation of you out there that will never know the phrase "please be kind and rewind." Sad.

Without giving too much away, Bridget is a single thirty-something on a mission to find romance and lose weight. (I have a feeling that same plot will be playing in movies 1,000 years from now.) Each diary entry begins with the date, her current weight, and the status of her love life. I won’t spoil the romance part of it, but she does achieve her weight loss in the movie, and when she hits that goal weight, drum roll please........

Nothing happens. In fact, her family and friends are concerned.

Are you ill? Is something wrong with you? You don’t look good.

The take home point, of course, is that her friends and family love her just as she is. 

We all have something we obsess over; something that floats off in the distance; the one shining beacon that we feel, if we could just get there, would make everything right again. Getting our Ph.D. Writing a book. Finding a relationship. Weighing 135.8 pounds. 

What about the journey? 

For me, that shining beacon in the distance was a job, or rather, career. I should say, that beacon for me was finding THE job or THE career. I practically lived in the career office at my college. Thankfully, my best friend's mom worked there and got used to seeing me around. I took every career test under the sun and still didn't know what I was going to do. 


In fact, I celebrated my graduation from Gannon University walking by myself down State Street in Erie, Pennsylvania in my cap and gown and literally panicking. "Oh my God," I thought. "What now?"

I had little time to celebrate graduating Cum Laude while playing lacrosse and living in a convent. I was, what Daniel Gilbert calls in his book "Stumbling on Happiness," nexting.

I was nexting. What next? 

And I went right on nexting through my 20's and into my 30's with my career obsession. I can’t begin to tell you how much shame I carried (and sometimes still do) surrounding my employment situation.* 

I was often too busy moping about my lack of a career to fully appreciate the depth of my experience as a person. I ignored the fact that I’d performed chest compressions on a woman who was coding when I worked at a hospital. That my face was inches from her husband’s face as he held her hand and begged her not to leave him and I literally put the entire force of my life into her heart that helped, in that moment, keep her alive. 

Then, because it was part of my job as a nurse transporter, I took her body to the hospital morgue later that night. That experience, while awful and traumatic, at my ripe old age of 23, was life-changing.  

But I ignored that.  

At 24 years old I showed up to a press conference less than 60 miles from the crash of Flight 93 on September 11th, 2001. I was a young, very green reporter and it was my job, at the age of 24, to report the news on a day when nothing made any sense. 

But I ignored that. 

I took this shot the year I was the AA photographer for theAltoona Curve. And in the midst of yet another terrible depression that also involved my lack of success at a career. 

I took this shot the year I was the AA photographer for theAltoona Curve. And in the midst of yet another terrible depression that also involved my lack of success at a career. 

I photographed Andrew McCutchen when he made his AA debut for the Altoona Curve. I was in the dugout and walked up the stairs in front of him so I could grab his picture coming out of the dugout for the debut. For those of you who follow baseball, McCutchen is a perennial All-Star and the 2013 National League MVP. 

But I ignored that. 

The list could go on. 

And I was ashamed and embarrassed every step of the way. I was so focused on what I WASN'T doing and achieving that I dismissed my life experiences as having no value. I was hyper focused on a career. And because I lived the hyper-focus for so long, and still battle it every day, I see the hyper-focus in so many people.

I appreciate having a goal and writing it down. Part of my struggle with a career is that I didn't have a goal. I struggled for focus. So I think it's awesome to have a goal.

But how many moments are you nexting away in the process? Will you be a different person when you lose those 10 pounds? Will you be a better person? No. Will you feel better? Probably. But are you giving away moments now?

When I coached softball and we were losing by a lot, my phrase to them was "don't give away an at bat." College doesn't last forever. Your career doesn't last forever.

You're life doesn't last forever. Don't give away this moment by assuming that happiness will happen in the next moment. Or the next or the next or the next. 

I've given away a lot of moments in my life waiting for my real life to begin. But I hope with time and practice, that I can enjoy the present moment for whatever it brings. And that is my hope for you as well. 

*I’m happy with where I am now; but anytime someone asks for a resume, I cringe. There’s literally not enough room to put my experience on one page. I had to create a communications based resume, a coaching based resume, a photography based resume…etc.