What to Do after Achieving Your Goal?
When we start our first job, we are surrounded by the concepts of career, success and ‘climbing up the ladder’. In our personal life, milestones are around us all the time, and they’re often related to our age, relationships, renting or buying a home, family, anniversaries, life events, etc.
When you think about it, goal setting is a practice that most of us have been raised under. For some, a goal might look like a general, underlying feeling or vision of where they want their life to take them. For others, it might be a consciously formed system stacked with action steps and time frames attached to it. Either way, we are all susceptible to some form of pressure to achieve certain things within a certain time.
In previous blog posts, I’ve written extensively about the process of achieving goals and exploring how to do this in a way that is fun, engaging and aligned with what we wish for. However, what we don’t often speak about is this:
Take a moment to think about it. What does ‘success’ look like to you? Picture yourself in it and ask yourself the question: What happens when I get there? Many of us sense that we’ll be happy, we will be able to relax, ‘arrive’ somewhere, feel supported, cut back at work, enjoy our weekends… simply enjoy our life.
Yes to all of this, but also: what’s next?
I see time and time again many of us reaching goals and not fully feeling the joy and fulfilment we thought we would. Sure, sometimes, we realise the goal was not quite right itself. Setting goals is a real skill, which is why working with a coach is a powerful step to take to ensure you stay on track. However, oftentimes, there’s something additional at play that can delay or lead us astray. And that’s the flatness we feel a lot of the time after the initial rush of getting to where we wanted. This can lead us to the common analogy that life is like a ladder.
This is where we go wrong.
Life is not a ladder. It is, in fact, a circle: We are constantly living and creating within cycles. Achieving a goal is simply one of the many cycles we’ll complete; a new one will begin again. If you’re anything like me, naturally always thinking and moving up, up, up… the space between completing one goal and knowing what you will focus on next can be a highly uncomfortable and unsettling time.
It can seem like you’re doing nothing, and the ‘arrival’ in the place you’ve been longing for can suddenly feel empty and uninspiring. Where is the fire? My passion? My hunger? Why do I feel so lost? Who am I? Where has my excitement gone for the ideas and projects that once kept me up late at night, eagerly in creation mode?
It’s all OK… you’ve just completed a cycle!
Sometimes, the cycle will end at our predetermined destination. The achievement of the dream or goal in the manner that we expected. In some cases, the cycle will end sooner than we think with our inspiration for our current goals suddenly falling short. There is a saying that the beginning of a personal crisis is when the story you tell yourself - about yourself - is no longer convincing. This can show up in confusing ways.
Once we complete a significant goal, we might simply be lacking a story. Who am I, now that I’m not working toward this goal anymore? If our passion for a dream cuts off earlier than we think, we can get into self-doubt and judgement, wondering if our story was ever true to begin with.
When we get out of linear ways of thinking about our life, and truly bring our cyclic nature into our hearts, we can start to fully relax into the process. The key to this is respecting the space in between. Positive new cycles can’t really emerge when we’re in a frantic space of worry and desperation or we’re impatient and in eager anticipation of what will emerge.
This ‘in-between’ period is a powerful learning opportunity to relax; take pause; visit new places; explore new ways of being; disconnect with previous stories; and clear your mind of expectation. If you learn to connect within, you are building the foundation for the right things to come into your life - maybe even with a sprinkle of magic.
And remember, this state of peace isn’t only accessible after a significant goal-related cycle. Smaller cycles are happening all of the time… within our working day, weeks, monthly targets, environmental seasons, moods, relationships, etc.
Start to notice where you can honor your cycles with more gentle awareness.