My husband and I argue over who first blurted this statement out, but regardless, (OK, he can have it), the concept came out of a very real conversation we were having. I had just reached another major milestone in my business, it was something that I had once thought was impossible. I had been working so hard, with my head down, ass up, for months, coming up for only air and water so to speak. And then one day, I hit it. I got the report and what was once a fantasy, was staring back at me in reality – black and white.
After a short and quick burst of elation, I woke up a couple of days later and actually felt somewhat depressed. At first, I figured there must be something wrong with me and I didn’t want to even mention anything. After all, this was what I wanted. I had reached the pinnacle – the mountain top. Why on earth would I feel this way? Lucky for me, he knew something was up and over happy hour we discussed. That’s where we stumbled across this idea.
Goal achievement = Goal bereavement
Since that time, I’ve had many more opportunities to test my theory and here’s what I’ve managed to decipher so far:
- It wasn’t about the goal. It’s about the progress you make, or more like, who you become en-route to the achievement.
- When you reach the goal, you temporarily lose the connection with the inner driver that was propelling you down progression lane, and as a result you fall flat and feel down.
- The whole dance is an inside job. If outside results were enough to create and sustain your happiness, then goal bereavement wouldn’t happen.
In the end, knowing what I know, here’s my take on things today:
I love setting goals because I know that they drive my inner growth and give me outside targets that create internal transformation. I’m aware as I approach the finish line that I need to build in some down time. Some alone time. I know the sadness, apathy or despair, or some form of bereavement is likely around the corner and I don’t avoid it. I embrace it.
I give myself the permission and the space to rest for a while. A chance to practice being, after such a big spurt of doing. I lean in deeply to my inner practices of meditation, yoga, writing. I take long baths and from the outside look as though I’m not doing much of anything. I see it as calibration. Coming into awareness of this new version of myself.
Because only then, can I re-set and start the process all over again.