green grass on forest

Detaching From the Outcomes of Our Work

Though the unwise cling to their actions, watching for results, the wise are free of attachments, and act for the well-being of the whole world.

– Bhagavad Gita

Don’t care about the outcome. How do you say this to someone who works in digital marketing? It’s essentially what I’m supposed to do. I’m the person they go to for the outcome. At the same time, I’ve also realized that caring for results has created unneeded pressure as I work. For just about everything that I do, I have no control over what the results will be. Negative emotions are the only things that result in caring for them. They say it is all about the journey and not the destination, but how often do we take this to heart?

It’s essentially why I don’t create goals. I don’t have the perspective to know that I will achieve my goals. Any perceived failure only brings disappointment, whereas success is always fleeting. We’re always looking for a new high. Both cases seem to be a lose-lose situation. When we only care about the outcome, we become fixated on our expectations, not allowing new (and possibly exciting) outcomes to occur. We are not open to any alternatives due to our tunnel vision.

If we enjoy the journey, how we get to where we want to go doesn’t necessarily matter. I think we’d have a better time focusing on our intentions rather than the results. I’ve been in many predicaments where a project was started to do one thing. As the project continues, people start to look towards goals like growth. In looking into the goal of growth rather than the initial intention, actions are focused on the goal. Once the project has matured we start to realize that it’s becoming a failure due to the initial purpose of the project being lost in the sauce. We forgot why we started the project in the first place. Has this ever happened to you?

The Secret to Detachment

Again this easier said than done? We’ve been taught to set goals and then achieve them. How do we now stop caring about the outcome of our work? There’s a bit of a secret to this. It’s essentially in the quote above. When we act toward the well-being of others (rather than ourselves), we put our intentions in the forefront. Selfless action comes with true intention because selfishness is nature. When we are not thinking, when we are not being intentional, we only care for ourselves.

We detach from the outcome because the outcomes aren’t for us. The outcome is our gift to the person or the people that we are helping. If I were to give a tree analogy, we are life-giving trees that bear fruit. Our fruit is our outcomes. A tree can’t eat its fruit. I don’t know if you’d consider that cannibalism, but the fruit isn’t for itself. The fruit is shared amongst the animals and the humans that pick the fruit from it. The tree gives freely. If we want to provide peace in our actions, be the tree.

Bhagavad Gita