It’s easy to forget to find joy in the journey—whatever that journey happens to be. A while back, I started going to a Speakers and Entrepreneurs Network meetup in Sacramento because I thought speaking to groups would be a great way to market Don’t Stop Now: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life. Unlike a lot of folks who think public speaking is more terrifying than jumping out of an airplane, I enjoy it—once I’ve memorized the speech.
In April, I made the commitment to be a presenter at the July 5 meetup. I spent a couple of weeks writing and refining my twenty-minute talk. Then, I started memorizing it. That’s when the flashback to a high school speech contest loomed front and center. I’d memorized The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. I got off to a great start. About half way through, my mind went blank. I froze. I waited for the words to come. They never did.
It was not my finest hour.
Since then, I’ve given many talks but none that required memorization. Even thought I’ve written the upcoming speech, memorization has been more difficult than I expected. I was starting to stress out about it, worried that I wouldn’t be able to commit 2500 words to memory. That’s when I got some great advice from Sandra, my friend and acting coach. “Find the joy in learning the speech, not just in delivering it.”
To find joy, I adjusted my attitude. And, I did exactly what I do when I write a book. I enjoyed the process of researching and writing—just as much as holding the final product in my hand.
Basically, I employed what the wiser part of myself already knows:
Every day, I learn another paragraph and practice what I know. I rehearse in my bedroom in front of a full-length mirror, in the back yard while I’m working in the garden, and in the car while I’m driving (to see how much I recall without looking). And, I’m having fun. My goal is to have everything memorized by June 20 and use the rest of the time to perfect my presentation.
So often we have our eye on the destination and ignore the journey. Focusing on the journey has made learning a lot more fun and much less stressful. While I’m using this technique to learn a speech, it applies to many other areas of life. For example, if you’re having a dinner party, make sure all the prep is as enjoyable as the meal. Same with planning a vacation. Make learning about the destination and planning what you’ll do when you arrive interesting and exciting.
In the words of the Indian educator and philosopher Srikumar Rao, “There’s no destination. The journey is all that there is, and it can be very, very joyful.”
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