Why It Sucks When You Reach Your Goal

Over-achievers unite. 

We know what it's like to work hard, fail sometimes, keep going, and garner success. But if you've ever had the really strange experience of reaching a goal and then thinking, "Wow, that wasn't as cool as I thought it would be," don't worry -- you're normal. 

 The Best Self Journal is one of the tools I've found that actually works to help me reach my goals. 

The Best Self Journal is one of the tools I've found that actually works to help me reach my goals. 

All my life, I've wanted to be an author. I'd walk through Barnes & Noble, running my fingers across the spines of the books, and imagine my book there among the titles. I thought up names for my book, what the covers would look like, and occasionally, I'd actually work toward my goal. 

Then one day I decided to actually get serious and lean into my dream of becoming a published writer. Tiny little successes along the way kept me going. I wrote a whole lot of stuff for free, building readership and followers, and the first check I ever got for my writing -- a whopping $50 -- was a huge accomplishment. It meant someone actually valued my writing, and that felt amazing. 

Other little successes happened too. I pitched my blog to Patheos, and it got picked up there. That lead to an even bigger audience, a trip to Jordan on a press tour, and a sense of clout I hadn't had before. 

Then one day, I was sitting on the bench watching my kids' martial arts class, chatting with the dad of one of the kids with whom I'd gotten friendly. We finally got around to the "So, what do you do?" part. He said, "I'm in publishing." I said, "I'm a writer."

And the rest is a strange history. 

He read the blog, asked for a book proposal he could pitch to the Barnes & Noble buyer, and poof! One year and a whole lot of work later, PAUSE is on the shelf.  

So why am I kind of Meh about the whole thing? 

Two words: brain chemistry.


It turns out that while we're working on our goals, reaching tiny milestones and having small successes, our brains are pumping out feel-good brain chemicals that keep us motivated and excited. The kind of stuff we need to keep plugging up that mountain, imagining that gorgeous view. 

But once we reach our goal, our bodies no longer need these motivating chemical forces -- so they drop suddenly upon achievement, leaving us feeling ho-hum when we should be shouting hallelujah! 

See? You're not weird for not being excited when you finally reach that goal. You're normal! 

So the question then becomes, what to do about it? I have a few ideas.

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As your goal comes within site, start planning a party. You deserve to celebrate, and doing it with friends will help you understand the accomplishment through other people's eyes. Very often, our friends think we're a bigger deal than we do, and sometimes, that's exactly what we need to hear. 

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Having a list of goals you want to accomplish someday means you always have an idea of what can be next for you -- and having something to look forward to beyond the current goal you're working on will help you stay motivated and excited -- and avoid that feeling of let down -- once your current goal is met. 

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I love planners, and I'm always searching for the right one -- and I think I found it. The Best Self Planner is perfect for this kind of goal planning, because it's got plenty of space in the back for dreamy notes and brainstorming. Plus, it breaks down your goal into actionable steps, so you always know what's next on your to-do list. Color-coding is optional ;) 

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As you get closer to finishing the goal at hand, begin to plan your strategy for the next one. That means you know what you want next before your work on this goal ends. Be careful, though. It's easy to get distracted with a shiny new thing. The point is not to derail your progress from the goal you're this close to reaching. Instead, the point is to know what comes immediately after your celebration party, so you have something to look forward to when the "meh" starts to hit. 


It might be time to look into coaching. When I work with my clients, I often use a curriculum I designed called Your Life ON PURPOSE. It's a program specifically designed to bring out your deepest desires, dreams, and talents so that you're living a life that's aligned with your truest purpose. Sound interesting? Book a free call with me today to get started!