You set up an ambitious goal. You work hard for it. You overcome obstacles, and, eventually, you reach it.
Maybe it’s something career-related: the job, or the position of your dream. A corner office, maybe?
Or maybe it’s about a personal goal: finishing a marathon, or an ultra-marathon. Losing 30k of weight, maybe?
Or maybe it’s about finding your true love, getting married and having a family.
At the end of the journey you feel entitled to sit down, look back and say to yourself (or even shouting it out loud): “Yes! I made it!”.
And That’s Where The Danger Hides
Inconspicuous, the danger I’m talking about hides in this exact moment of joy, which dissects your continuous life into separate containers: the before, and the after. This invisible separation line holds the seed of your future misery.
There is no before and there is no after, there’s only now. While experiencing this “now”, you may or may not be where you wanted to arrive, you may or may not be where the mental goal post was. That’s all there is to it.
But if you separate it into before and after, you will feel entitled to an amount of “relaxation” proportional to the size of the goal. If you worked hard for years, you may feel entitled to a sabbatical, maybe, or even two. You will force some sort of a balance upon yourself, something that will compensate your for all the perceived sacrifices you made to get there.
If you’re tired, you should rest. But forcing such a long amount of inactivity, of self-induced pleasure and withdrawal, isn’t natural. It’s pushing you into complacency.
You made it, you deserve appreciation. But appreciation often turns into unreasonable pride, entitlement and an inflated sense of ego. I’ve seen this on myself. After I sold my first company, more than 10 yeas ago, I took on a sabbatical. It wasn’t good for me, I became lazy and overconfident. I should’ve taken some time off, no doubt about it, because I worked almost non-stop for 9 years before getting to the exit point. But, in hindsight, it would have probably be no more than a couple of months, top.
After that, I should have started again. As clumsy and as ridiculous I would have been on a new endeavor, the mere fact that I embarked on a new trip should have spare me of all the troubles of complacency I experienced for the next few years.
Must. Stay. Relevant.
Goal setting is just a sign post on the road. It’s not fragmenting your existence into layers, it’s not magically pushing you into a new universe once you reached it. Yes, you became different, but that’s because the whole process changed you. There were things you learned, adjustments you made and mistakes you paid for. All this was continuous.
And that continuum is still going on, for as long as you’re going to be alive.
“I made it!” should be just a whisper, something you say to yourself in solitude, and only once.
After that, keep moving on.