Process Over Outcome: A Perfect Focus for 2022

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Woman writing on iPad
Image by Andres Rabellino

Last December was the first time I reflected long and hard on the year that was about to end. The year 2020 was an eventful year if there ever was one, and I came up with seven different lessons or takeaways to write about.

In 2021 I’ve come up with just one:

Process over outcome

There are compelling reasons why it often makes most sense to focus on the process rather than the outcome.

This insight applies most directly to my writing life. Twelve months ago, I did something entirely useless: I set myself follower targets for Medium (a blogging platform where I also post), and a subscriber target for this, my personal blog and labor of love. Not only that (I’m embarrassed to admit), I wrote the numbers down on a big old whiteboard by my desk so that I couldn’t avoid seeing them.

By June, it was obvious I wasn’t on track to hitting any target. Why did it occur to me that the mere act of writing down those figures would make them come true?

There’s no magical willing anything into existence. Also, I didn’t do anything new to reach those crazy stupid targets. I just kept up with the program, so to say. I kept writing and publishing on Public Ponder and on Medium with the same intensity as the year before, and the numbers are what they are.

And that’s OK! My process, such as it is, is what helped me make the gains I did make in terms of audience and, most importantly, quality.

Whatever writing focus I set for myself in 2022, it will have to do with process.

Process is a dimension I can largely control and where I have infinite room for growth -and this, dear reader, largely applies to everyone, including you.

I will treat the outcome as I do the weather app, as information of interest I can react to (time to get out those winter boots maybe?) but cannot will to change.

Everything is a process

Getting a job is a process. You need to research, send resumes, interview, follow up, send more resumes, keep interviewing and following up. Eventually, you get more than one offer (or just one and that’s OK) and decide which one to accept.

Taking care of a loved one is a process. Recovery is a process, sometimes lifelong.

Even dying is a process. It may be long if you have a terminal illness, or short if you’re in a fatal car crash. It may be violent or peaceful. It may be faced alone or surrounded by loved ones. But it always is a process.

What’s in store for 2022?

I ended 2020 bemoaning all the dental work my husband and I had to get. Well, 2021 started with me finally getting my new tooth, the end of a 9-month affair involving an extraction, root canal, implant, and, finally, the crown. Dental-wise, apart from that crown, 2021 was happily uneventful.

At the end of last year, I also wrote the following:

“The end of the pandemic, though closer, is still many months away.”

Go ahead, laugh. I chuckled and went like this 🤦🏻‍♀️ when I re-read it. Lesson learned: I’m as good at making predictions about the pandemic as a squirrel is about the price of oil. So no predictions this time!

I do have a few specific tasks I’d like to devote some time to in 2022. One of them is to translate my stories into Spanish. I’m excited to create the Public Ponder Spanish version for everyone who speaks my native language. It’ll be a process with no due date though.

Then too, I’m dying to be able to say “I journal daily”. I want to be the sort of person who journals.

Like last year, I’d like to end with Frederick Douglass’s assertion that:

“He most lives who thinks the most, feels the noblest, acts the best.” (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave)

The fleetingness of life is one thing I constantly ponder. My intention is to live mine to the utmost every day.

Here’s my 2020 year-end reflection:

Prepare to Live the Most in 2021 By Taking Stock of 2020

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