It’s human nature to expect that we’ll be happier after we reach our big goals. Happier, more content, satisfied…able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labour. But is that really what happens?
I’ve been working with a life coach who says reaching one’s goals can often be a letdown IF we haven’t prepared to deal with the unexpected feelings that result. For instance, if you think finally running that marathon will make you feel accomplished and proud, find ways to feel accomplished and proud before you sprint past that finish line. Break the goal into smaller steps and celebrate each one as you achieve it.
I still remember getting that letter in the mail. It looked so much like a form rejection that I almost threw it away. But it wasn’t a rejection. It was a request for a partial manuscript, which was followed by a request for the full manuscript. Then I got a call from the agent and she was so excited about my book! Finally, after all the rejections and all the rewrites, someone was recognizing my abilities. There was only one catch…she had to make sure her boss, the head of the agency, felt the same way. She called back with good news and emailed the contract only a few days later, but the early thrill of acceptance was already gone and I couldn’t get it back. Landing an agent was nothing like I thought it would be.
Neither was getting engaged, becoming a director in the corporate world, or fighting in the ring. All were great moments in my life; all were worthy of celebration. And yet, if I were to be completely honest with myself, deep down there was a niggling feeling of, “That’s it?” But maybe this only applies to goals that end in disappointment…neither the agent, the engagement or the new job was a good fit, and I lost the fight. Whenever I’ve achieved a huge milestone, it’s been followed by a restlessness…a feeling of being completely lost. Now what? What to do next?
That’s why I think the life coach’s advice is so important. If you take a hard look at your goals, imagining how you’ll feel when you achieve them and finding ways to feel that way now, you won’t be crushed by disappointment if the accomplishment isn’t quite what you hoped. I’ll take this advice one step further and say it never hurts to have a follow-up goal so you know exactly where you’re going next.
Can you relate? Have you ever accomplished something really big and been surprised (and somewhat letdown) by the way you felt afterwards? How did you deal with it? Looking back, was there a way to give yourself the feelings you were seeking before you accomplished the goal? I’d love to hear your thoughts!