We sometimes get to a certain point in our lives where the excitement of this goal or even life, has worn off. We got the reward, the promotion, the thing and we’re left thinking, “is this it” or “so what now?” What’s the next step in your life when you’ve done what you’ve wanted? Or what if you’ve tried something and are starting to feel the itch of something new? Achievers listen up, because this is going to resonate with you. Today we’re going to talk about what’s happening and what to do about this feeling of uncertainty.
When you start to live bigger in either one area of your life or across multiple areas of your life, you likely started by making some goals. These can be personal goals like meeting someone or having a relationship, or starting a family, or doing something physically or mentally challenging. These can also be professional goals like starting a company, hitting revenue goals, creating products or services or getting a certain title or type of work. Then what happened? You achieved them. Then, you start to plateau or flounder not sure of what you should do next.
The question isn’t really what you should do next. This is where most people get tripped up. It’s by asking yourself why do you feel less excitement? It’s by investigating what is it that’s happening or not happening in my life right now that leaves me thinking about the next thing? Very often we think of life as a series of checkmarks. I’ve done this! I’ve done that! Look at me, I’m successful. Let’s keep accomplishing and accomplishing. We do this because of this idea that we will be happy once we’ve done this thing. This does happen, but the feeling of accomplishment and happiness is actually pretty fleeting. This is the arrival fallacy, a term coined by Harvard psychologist, Tal Ben-Shahar. This is the mistaken belief that once we’ve achieved our goal we will become and stay happy.
What happens instead is that we feel the energy that we’ve been harnessing towards achieving the goal start to release. We feel in a sense, let down. What I want you to realize is that this is normal. That you feeling a sense of deflation or even listlessness after a big milestone doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. But it is a good time to ask yourself if you are living off the adrenaline of achievement. We sometimes get addicted to the rush and stress of achieving under difficult circumstances – so much so that we keep creating new opportunities for us to experience them. Raise your hand if you’ve done that – where you see a little block of time in your calendar or past this point of achievement and you think to yourself, “let’s do it again!”
I’m not one to say you’ve got to slow down, but I am going to challenge you to think about what would serve you best right now. If you’ve just pushed yourself hard to create something in your life, you’ve likely used up quite a bit of energy and this could be a good time for you to recover. To take a week off and lighten the load. To do something every single day that fuels you and gives you immense pleasure or energy in your life. In fact, you might like this practice so much that it becomes a habit regardless of whether or not you’ve just hit a big milestone. It is important, however, to pause and create a space where you can reflect on the following questions:
- What did this achievement or goal mean to you?
- How do you feel right now? Physically? Mentally? Emotionally?
- What do you need to restore energy and pleasure into your life?
- What would recovery allow you to do?
I want you to live expansive, big lives. Ones in which you feel thrilled and moved and deeply full of love. I also want you to not burn out along the way. This feeling of listlessness or deflation may be a signal that you’re on the cusp of burn out. This is the moment where you take the time to infuse your life with restorative moments so that you’re able to create even more beautiful and accomplished moments in your future.
Once you’ve given yourself some space to reflect, take in the deep gratitude of what has happened for you in your life, then do you start to do the work of envisioning what’s next. It is when we allow ourselves to be fully appreciative and grateful of the moment that we can increase our capacity to receive. It’s like we’re sending a signal out to the Universe that we’re capable of more because we appreciate what we have. It’s this ability to feel deeply and see deeply into the truth of how blessed you are that you get to create from a place of hope, certainty, and joy. Without this deep sense of gratitude and appreciation, the foundation upon which you start to search for the next thing becomes shaky.
Each time, however, that you anchor in your accomplishments and appreciation into your heart, body and mind, you imprint not only what you have done but what you are capable of doing. This allows you to create a mental picture of your ability to move from uncertainty to certainty. You’ll see that you’ve done this again and again.
Where you are, right here right now, in the in-between is like the gray matter in your brain. Every time you stay there a little longer, working to see what’s present, you work that gray matter and start shaping that unknown into the unknown each time. It’s literally the work of reshaping what you are creating in your life. We think it’s in the moments of achievements but it’s not. It’s in us asking “what’s next?” It’s in you struggling to figure out what it is you want. It’s in you being awake enough to get off the treadmill to say that it’s not where you want to go. I want you to realize that this feeling of anxious unknowing is your friend. It’s your life telling you to go here, that this is the work to do.
Once you’ve mastered the ability to navigate through uncertainty, discomfort, the realization that you can achieve anything becomes your destiny. See each moment of pause after your big win as not only as important, but perhaps even more important than the climb.
So the answer to the question of “is this it?” is “yes”. This my friend, is “it”. It’s not the depressing “it”, it’s the eye-opening, wonderful moment of opportunity kind of “it”. See it as that and you’ll never feel the same way again about those in between moments.
If you want to experience the transformation that happens during a coaching session, schedule a complimentary life design session at www.mayempson.com/contact