Updated: Jan 16, 2019
265 days checked off the list. I am almost 100 days out from achieving my end goal. There is really only one path to get there and that is to not drink each day. Back in August, I defined my One Word for the year as DESTINATION. With only 100 days to go… I can see the end. However, I find it interesting that I haven't thought about day 365 very much. I don't think I am motivated by the end goal anymore because I have been enjoying the process along the way. I think I shifted from destination to journey.
So what happens on April 25, 2019?
How will I feel? Will I will feel super happy, powerful, full of pride and excitement? Researchers say that I will likely feel a great sense of accomplishment but that moment of achievement, although glorious, is only fleeting. A drop in dopamine, which can lead to feeling confused and depressed, will quickly follow my high moment. The reality is that achieving my long-term goal may feel disorienting because there is no longer a specific task to accomplish. I may feel unsure of where to direct all the energy I have been using to chase my goal.
If I had to make a prediction, I think I will be happy but not jump up and down super excited. I think it will feel like any normal day when I just simply get another thing done. Completion… I can check that box off the list. There won’t be any fireworks. There won’t be a big party with a pop of the cork and champagne flowing. My life will continue on like normal on April 25, 2019.
This kind of let down actually has a name. Commonly known as, the arrival fallacy, it is a big bummer for goal setters. Harvard psychologist, Tal Ben-Shahar, defines the arrival fallacy as the false belief that reaching a valued destination can sustain happiness. Arriving at your destination rarely makes you as happy as you expect because, by the time you get there, you have already been expecting to reach it. Once you get there, you are already on to your new normal.
This explains why I am not expecting some spectacular celebration on day 365. Achievement is temporary, so I get my enjoyment from the process. Just like the Chinese proverb says, “The Journey is the Reward.”
Working toward a goal is a more powerful source of happiness than actually achieving it.
I think “The Journey is the Reward” is very evident in my non-stop revolving door of hobbies. I get joy out of coming up with new ideas or trying out someone else’s idea. I like setting a goal to learn a new hobby and challenging myself to practice it. I usually succeed with some sort of end goal or finished product. Then, I temporarily celebrate my work but quickly move on to the next thing.
For example, recently I decided I wanted to spend some crafty time with my daughter and thought we could paint together. We watched a bunch of Bob Ross videos for inspiration and then I read a bunch of websites and flipped through books at the craft store about painting techniques. I learned as much as could to get us started. We then followed a tutorial online and whipped out a pretty good novice version of a Bob Ross Snowy Mountain painting. We felt a sense of accomplishment- but I haven’t painted another one since!
I get fulfillment from the repetitive process of ideas-goals- challenges- success- repeat. For me, the joy lies in the challenge of creating a new goal or learning something new. In 100 days I WILL achieve the goal I set out to accomplish. I will celebrate my achievement for a moment but then I will start working on my next goal.
I thrive on momentum
Truthfully, until recently I thought on day 365 I would immediately start my next long-term goal and it would be about healthy living and weight loss. If I can do a year without drinking, I for sure can do a year of exercising! However, right now I am not sure that aligns with my life purpose. In fact, my hobby of choice right now is learning, reading, and completing webinars about finding life purpose and exploring passions. Maybe the work I am doing on that is a precursor to my next goal.
I relate very well to the advice Lauren Hays gives in her article, Keeping the Momentum: What to Do Next After Complete a Goal. She says, to the greatest extent possible, it is best to plan for life after completion of the goal before you achieve it. I need to be excited about what comes next, and that means I need to know what will follow. Hays highlights a quote from Glenn Llopis, author of The Innovation Mentality, “You cannot build and sustain momentum … without being able to see the next opportunities of greatest potential, sow them, grow them, share them and then resow them into new opportunities.”
Maybe my new goal could be an expansion goal related to this snooze. Maybe I will move my goal out a little further and take it to 2 years and continue blogging? Or, maybe I can help others learn to achieve their personal goals or learn from my experiences? Possibly, I could become a voice in the sober community? I can already see personal growth as I work toward my goal. Once I meet my goal, the growth shouldn’t stop. Growth can be in the same area I have been focusing on or in new areas. I think my choice here will depend on whether I still find meaning in focusing on sobriety or if I will be ready to move on to something else.