Be a man that strives after the dreams and mission God has put on your heart, but enjoy the process along the way and live with gratitude and joy each day.

Here are 4 ways to help you enjoy the present while still pursuing big dreams:

1. Develop a Lifestyle of Reflection

When we don’t take time to stop, reflect on our lives, ask ourselves good questions, acknowledge the wins, identity things we are grateful for, we are not allowing ourselves to grow to the full.


2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Comparison can be the thief of joy. Oftentimes, comparing yourself to people who are ahead (or seem to be) of you causes us to lose sight of our mission. If you are going to compare, compare your current self to your former self. Acknowledge the progress you are making and celebrate the wins in the process.

3. Change Your Perspective on Failure and Discomfort

Here is the shift in mindset that you must make…experiencing some failures and making mistakes is not a sign of weakness, it is actually a sign that you are growing, progressing, and pursuing something that is worth pursuing. Failure and discomfort are positives because it means that you are learning and growing. They are positives because it means you are on the right path.

4. Celebrate Your Wins with Others

Have some guys (or one other guy) that you meet with consistently to celebrate your wins. This forces you to think about the things that are going well, and it teaches you to learn how to celebrate the wins of others instead of comparing yourself to others.

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Hey! It’s Jonathan McGinley. A Maxwell Certified Coach, Speaker, and Trainer and the Founder of Intentional Man - a company that exists to give Christian Men the tools, community, and coaching to pursue God sized Goals, live intentionally, and build lives of significance.

Have you ever set a goal, killed yourself to get it…didn’t enjoy any part of it, and then once you got it, you just set the next goal without taking any time to celebrate?

Or maybe you sometimes find yourself always focused on the next thing. When I just get married then I’ll be happy. Or when I get that promotion I’ll be happy. When I just get the perfect body then I’ll be proud of myself. 

You find yourself in that “Grass is always greener on the other side mentality.”

I’m sure you can identify with some of those statements or you at least know someone who always seems to have this mindset.

I remember a couple that I met who always seemed to be like this. When I first met them, they were engaged and everything was all about how happy they were going to be when they got married…but the engagement process wasn’t fun for them. And then once they were married, the next thing was they couldn’t be happy until they bought a house. Then when they bought the house, it was all about having a baby, and then it was the next baby and so on and so on.

The conversations I had with the guy were always focused on how bad things were in the current situation, but how good they would be when they hit the next step. 

It would often frustrate me when I would have these conversations, but if I’m being fully honest, I often do the same things in my life, even if it might look a little different.

In a world that is full of goal-setting and comparison and wanting to keep up with people around us, it’s very easy to fall into this trap.

When I was in 7th grade, I started playing the drums. I think I just started playing because other people in my class were all starting to play instruments for the school band so I wanted to fit in.

I got pretty serious about learning and getting better in 8th grade. I started practicing more and got to a point where I could start playing on Sunday’s at my church. 

The summer between 8th and 9th grade, I went to a youth conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In a moment of worship at this conference, I encountered God in a real way for the first time. It was in that moment where I knew I wanted to use the drums to help create more of those moments for other people. It was like God told me in that moment, “This is why you are playing the drums.” “This is what I want you to be about.”

So that moment kicked off a passion for worship drumming. I devoted a ton of my time and energy to get better and better. As I did this, I always had a dream to be a part of a team that wrote worship songs and recorded music. I had attended some live album recordings of other worship bands in the past, and I always dreamed of doing it.

Since that time, I have had the amazing privilege to record 7 albums with some of my best friends, 3 of those have been live albums…I have been able to play for other conferences and be a part of some other great friends projects. It has truly been an amazing experience…but here’s the sad part…a lot of this experience has been robbed by not allowing myself to fully enjoy the process. By not allowing myself to be grateful for every opportunity. There has been too much comparison to other worship bands that are getting way more listens and views that some of these things have felt less significant to me than they really are.

Can you relate to that in some way? Can you think of something that you have experienced or done where you didn’t allow yourself to fully enjoy it because it wasn’t as “big” or “significant” as you thought? Or because you were comparing yourself to others?

This past week, we did a live recording of our new album in Fort Collins, CO at the Colorado House of Prayer. God absolutely wrecked me in one of the songs in this exact area. 

We made this a full worship night so we recorded 5 new original songs and then mixed in some other popular worship songs. We were singing “Gratitude” by Brandon Lake…I’m sure most of you have heard this song…if not check it out!

I’m playing drums on this song and we build through the bridge and hit the last chorus really big. Right when we hit the chorus, the lights change and light up the whole crowd. And it was one of the most amazing scenes from my vantage point. The whole crowd is lit up and I think every single person in the room had their hands raised just worshiping Jesus with everything they had. 

And God just absolutely wrecked me in this moment. I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be in that moment. He brought me back to that moment when I was 15 years old and I wanted to play drums to be in these moments. To all the times I dreamed of doing live recordings and making worship music that helped people encounter the love of Jesus. 

I was DOING THE VERY THING I HAD ALWAYS DREAMED OF DOING. God made it crystal clear to me that I was living my dream. It was one of the most powerful moments I’ve experienced leading worship. 

But it made me really reflect and realize that I have been living my dream for the last 15 years, but I haven’t let myself fully enjoy it. I have been more focused on results or comparison that I haven’t just fully enjoyed each moment and been grateful the whole time. 

All of those worship nights I’ve been a part of with barely anyone there, that was still living the dream. The songs that we released that didn’t have that many plays, that was still living the dream. The late nights working hard to put songs together, that was living the dream. The live album recordings, that was living the dream.

I want to challenge you today to think about your life and take time to stop and be grateful for where you are. Take time today to thank God for everything you have been able to be a part of. Thank God for how far he has brought you. Thank God for giving you opportunities to do the things you enjoy. 

We are oftentimes so focused on some future result that we absolutely neglect the present. We get so focused on the goals we want to hit, the dreams we want to accomplish, or the comparison of other people that we don’t realize we are living the dream right now. 

Getting to be alive. Having purpose. Having a relationship with God. Having people around us who care for us…that is the dream. Getting to be alive and be healthy and pursue our passions…that is the dream. 

Running into setbacks and pushing through…that is the dream. Learning and growing each day and pursuing your full potential…that is the dream.

I don’t want to be someone who gets through life and was always chasing the next thing. Gets through life and realizes I didn’t enjoy all the small moments because I was so focused on the next pursuit. And I believe that you don’t want that either.

Even if you are not where you want to be right now, we can still learn to enjoy the process of growing. Enjoy the day to day of being alive and in relationship with God. If you can’t learn to be happy and grateful in your current situation, what makes you think you are going to be able to do that in the future? 

Most likely you are living part of your dream right now, but you just have not taken the time to acknowledge it. If that’s the case, you are most likely not going to all of a sudden be happy and grateful when you achieve the next part. 

That moment in worship for me was so eye opening. There are multiple parts of my life right now that are absolutely what I dreamed about years ago, and I just haven’t taken the time to acknowledge and appreciate them. 

So as I have taken time to reflect on that moment, I want to give you 4 practical ways to start enjoying the process, living in the moment, and not missing out on the things you should be grateful for right now.


Tip #1: Regular Times of Reflection

You need to start having regular times of reflection. As men, this is a hard one. We rarely just naturally take time to stop and reflect on our lives. We want to go, go, go…we don’t typically love to sit and reflect. So this one takes some intentionality. You need to be proactive to develop a lifestyle of reflection. 

In his book the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John Maxwell introduced the Law of Reflection, which just says “You must pause to allow growth to catch up to you.” 

When we don’t take time to stop, reflect on our lives, ask ourselves good questions, acknowledge the wins, identity things we are grateful for, we are not allowing ourselves to grow to the full.

People say that experience is the best teacher, but John Maxwell suggests that “Evaluated Experience” is the best teacher. If you don’t take the time to pull the lessons from your experiences, than you will not automatically learn from it.

If you don’t cultivate a habit of reflection, you are most likely going to get caught in the trap we all do at some point and that is the trap of only being focused on the future and not learning to be content now.

So I would recommend doing a daily reflection…either in the morning or at night…or both, where you write down things that you are grateful for, you write down your wins for the day, you write down things you are looking forward to, you write down what God is teaching you…things along those lines.

This doesn’t have to take a super long time. Giving yourself 5-10 minutes a day to cultivate gratitude and joy can be a game changer, and it can protect us from not enjoying the process.


Tip #2: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

I have already mentioned this a few times, but you must stop comparing yourself to others. Teddy Roosevelt said that, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I 100% agree with that statement. 

One of the greatest reasons that I failed to recognize that I was actually living in the middle of my dream, was comparison to other worship bands that are getting more listens, views, and people at their worship nights. 

Just because I had been to live recordings that had more people in the crowd, I felt like that was the accomplishment of the dream. 

Think about your life right now…is comparison to others who are ahead of you robbing you from being grateful for where you are now?

Do you feel like what you are doing is not significant because there are others who are doing it better?

You need to cut that thinking out of your life asap if you want to learn to enjoy the present and enjoy the process.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, learn to compare yourself to your former self. This can be such a fun way of looking at things. If I look back to all of the tiny gigs I did at the beginning, or just how bad I was at drums when I first started, or honestly even our first album, and then compare that to where I am now, it is super encouraging. I can see that I have been growing and making progress and getting better.

I can be so grateful that I was in a room with 300 people all worshiping their hearts out and singing our songs. But when I compare that same experience to a Hillsong live recording that has thousands of people, I can become discouraged and not enjoy it. It is all about perspective and it is all about what you are comparing to.

Instead of comparing to others ahead of you, learn to compare to where you used to be and you will feel more grateful for your situation. 


Tip #3: Change Your Perspective on Discomfort and Failure

You must change your perspective on discomfort and failure. This is a big one. When it comes to failure, most people think that we must do everything that we can to avoid failure. Our brains are trained to try and avoid discomfort and pain…so we set up our lives in a way to minimize it.

And then when it happens, it is easy to get down on yourself and stop doing what you were doing, or then that is oftentimes when you start comparing yourself to others.

For so long, I viewed failure as such a negative thing and it caused me to be really passive because I didn’t want to mess up. 

Here is the shift in mindset that you must make…experiencing some failures and making mistakes is not a sign of weakness, it is actually a sign that you are growing, progressing, and pursuing something that is worth pursuing.

Failure and discomfort are positives because it means that you are learning and growing. They are positives because it means you are on the right path. 

These are typically things that rob us of our joy, but if you change your perspective and learn to embrace them, you can learn to enjoy the process so much more. 

Learn to embrace the small beginnings because everyone has to start there. Learn to embrace the mistakes because they are stepping stones in your journey. 

Don’t let them rob you of your joy. Don’t let them knock you down. Don’t let them make you compare yourself to others. View them as progress and enjoy the fact that you are on a path worth taking.

Kobe Bryant has a great quote on this. He says Those times when you get up early and you work hard; those times when you stay up late and you work hard; those times when you don’t feel like working, you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway; that is actually the dream. That’s the dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”

He viewed hard work as the dream. He viewed pushing through setbacks as the dream. He viewed waking up at 3am to work on his craft as the dream. He had a different perspective. He knew those things were helping him become a better basketball player and a better man and so he learned to embrace them.

If you spend all your time running away from those things, you most likely will not learn to enjoy the process and you are going to miss some amazing moments along the way. You will also find that when you do reach that next level, it’s not that enjoyable either because it comes with a new set of challenges.

Change your perspective on failure and discomfort and you can change the way you feel in your current situation.


Tip #4: Celebrate Your Wins With Others

Celebrate your wins with others. Have some guys (or one other guy) that you meet with consistently to celebrate your wins. This forces you to think about the things that are going well, and it teaches you to learn how to celebrate the wins of others instead of comparing yourself to others.

You are probably experiencing so many small victories consistently, but you don’t feel the weight of them because you are not sharing them with others and celebrating them. 

There are multiple times when I push through something difficult at work or in my life, and it should be celebrated and acknowledged, but I just keep it to myself and so I don’t even realize that it was a big moment. 

Getting together with your friends to share wins and celebrate with each other is a fun step you can take to learn to enjoy the process and develop more gratitude and joy on a consistent basis.

So again those steps are:

  1. Develop a lifestyle of reflection
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others
  3. Change your perspective on failure and discomfort
  4. And celebrate your wins with others

If you can’t do all four right now, that is ok…just pick one and implement it. Let’s be men that don’t miss out on amazing opportunities because we are too focused on the future or on comparing ourselves to others.

You are living your dream more than you probably realize. You have so much to be grateful for. You have so much to live for right now in this current moment. 

Don’t let life fly by without learning to enjoy the small things. Don’t let your life fly by always focused on what’s next instead of being grateful for what is. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the day to day. Enjoy a daily relationship with God. Enjoy the amazing people that you have in your life.

Thanks for joining me today. Go live a life you are proud of by living intentionally!

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