THE BLOG
03/25/2014 07:46 pm ET Updated May 25, 2014

What Dunkin' Donuts Can Teach Us All

It was a wildly anticipated event -- the arrival of a new Dunkin' Donuts in town.

Despite its reputation for its delectable pieces of sugary wonder, I couldn't help but question if a health-conscious, avocado-lovin' place like my hometown of San Diego would welcome a Dunkin' Donuts into its midst. So imagine my surprise when the people came... in hoards.

Soon, this was the line I could see from my window...

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... which, I soon learned, extended well past this sign...

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I couldn't resist a bit of investigation, and so found myself interrogating the people on line:

  • Why did they come? I asked them
  • Why would they possibly wait in that line? I inquired of them
  • And was it worth it? I skeptically half-laughed at them

The mood remained upbeat despite my cynicism. It reminded them of home, they said; it had their favorite donut ever, they said; their pregnant wives demanded it, well, two of them said.

And then one person said it all. "Look around, it's just the thing to do right now." And it was. The opening was a momentous achievement.

But.

Just a few days later I took another look out my window and saw this line:

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Can't see it? That's because it wasn't there.

The line from that very first day diminished to a much smaller, reasonable size -- the kind that fits inside the actual store.

And it wasn't Dunkin' Donuts' fault. The donuts didn't grow stale, the memories didn't turn weak. It was just time for things to transition from the momentous moment to the day-to-day business.

And it's a great example of what happens to us all.

Big events occur in our work and in our lives... we get promoted, have a wedding, hit our ideal weight on the scale. And oh, how we celebrate the momentous occasion!

But.

These moments are rare and few. They kick things off or mark an achievement with striking grandeur, but they alone do not create success or happiness.

What does? Working at it. Every single day.

  • We must work hard in our newly promoted position every day to make an impact and show that we truly know our stuff
  • We must nurture our relationship every day to keep it healthy and happy over time
  • We must continue to make good food choices every day in order to maintain our healthy, energetic lifestyle

Think you know this one already? Maybe... but I bet you forget sometimes.

We all do. We become deeply invested in the big moments because we don't just think they will help our success and happiness. We believe they will make our success and happiness. Once and for all.

We convince ourselves that they alone will guarantee our reputation, that they alone will get us the permanent credibility we deserve.

And it's a problem. We forget that we will need to keep working at it afterwards. We grow disappointed and frustrated when the glory ends so quickly. We don't enjoy every step of the journey because we're so focused on that final moment of glory.

Yes, momentous achievements matter, but they are as short-lived as every other moment. They don't last longer just because we put so much time, energy and hope into them.

Which means we must continue nurturing our work, relationships, reputation and life at all times to find true success and happiness.

And, really, we must find a way to enjoy the entire ride... during those big moments and the many, many smaller ones.

In the end, that's what will make life even better than any delectable piece of sugary wonder. No matter how much it makes you smile.

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This week...

By all means, strive for the big moments. But know those moments are just one part of an ongoing process. Embrace the fact that true success and happiness takes continued work and nurturing.

And figure out how to enjoy it all.