If you’re a goal-setting, goal-smashing kind of gal, chances are you’ve got a fat stack of achievements under your belt, wondering why you still don’t feel the way you thought you would.
Hiiii, welcome! I used to be the president of the “I’ll be happy once X happens” club!!
In this article, we’re going to cover how to stop putting off your happiness until you cross the next finish line, so you can start living (& enjoying) your life now instead of later.
Sound like a plan?
Being achievement-oriented has gotten a bad rap in the personal development world over the last couple of years.
As we start critically examining the patriarchy and how it’s shaped our everyday lives, working, doing, and hustling are demonized.
Our culture tends to look at things through an all-or-nothing lens. So while there’s been a more significant focus on slowness, mindful living, and being (instead of doing), it’s also made people think that hustling or achieving is no bueno.
That’s not exactly true.
The point isn’t that you should give up your dreams, never set a goal again, and commit to being a couch potato, because GOD FORBID you work hard on something.
It’s about untangling achievements with your identity and sense of self. Because for a lot of us, achievement became less about what we do and more about who we are.
What you accomplish isn’t meant to define you.
What it IS supposed to do, is give you healthy goals to strive for because you like them, it’s an enjoyable way to spend your time, and achieving them is an added bonus.
If you feel exhausted by your goals and what it takes to achieve them, it’s time to examine your relationship with achievement.
Things to consider:
1. Why do you want what you want?
I’ll give you a hint — the only reason we do or don’t do anything comes back to emotions.
For example, if you want to hit 10k followers on Instagram, have 100k in your bank account, or quit your full-time job, your desire has little to do with achieving those things, and everything to do with how you think achieving those things will make you feel.
So the better question is, how do you want to feel?
Another consideration: what do you feel currently that you no longer want to feel?
If you crave safety and security by having 100k in your savings account, you most likely feel the opposite way now — maybe looking at your finances makes you feel unsafe, unsupported, or ungrounded.
An enlightening starting place is to identify how you feel, what you hope the next box checked will help you feel instead, and what you think prevents you from feeling that way now.
Another thing to get honest about: do you want this for you? Or because you want to manipulate how others see you?
Many people have a subconscious belief that achievement is what gains respect, love, admiration, and belonging (and that we aren’t good enough as-is).
We become invested in having what we want so that others will perceive us in a certain way.
Our egos love that, because it thinks we’re creating a buffer around rejection and disappointment — in reality, it’s not true.
Think about your goals and the things you want to achieve. Let’s say you are guaranteed to get what you want, but there’s a catch – you’d never be able to tell anyone about it. Not a soul. Ever.
Would you still want it? Would it still be important to you if it was all grind and no glory?
2. Circumstances won’t change how you feel
Is it easier to be happy when you have the house of your dreams, a doting and loving partner, money in the bank, and a snatched body?
Do those circumstances naturally produce better feelings than living in a cramped apartment with a roommate you hate because they never put their dishes away, going on your 7th failed hinge date this month, an empty bank account, and unwanted chin hairs?
But what’s also true is that your brain has consistent beliefs about the world.
If your subconscious belief is “the next [goal I hit] will FINALLY make me feel [the emotion I want],” you will carry that with you everywhere.
If you change your circumstances without changing your beliefs, your feelings won’t change either.
They might temporarily, but when the high of getting what you want wears off, it’s back to “well.. what’s next?”
It’s why people who thought getting rich and famous was the key to everything get what they want and still feel lonely.
It’s why women can lose 40 pounds and have their dream body, but still don’t feel good enough.
The only way to have the feelings you want later is to create them now (I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules!).
What’s ONE thing you can do today to create your desired feeling? If you want to feel safe with money, what’s an action you can start and complete today to make that happen?
Is it transferring $5 to savings? Is it opening a high-yield savings account? Is it keeping $100 in cash in your wallet?
Maybe it’s not about money, and you want to feel safe by snuggling up on the couch with your favorite blanket and watching your favorite show for the 100th time.
The feeling of safety is the same no matter how you trigger it, so whatever makes you feel safe, do it!
And at the risk of you wanting to slap me through the screen, my best advice is…
3. Fall in love with the process
I KNOW it’s cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason.
(Warning: tough love reality check incoming)
If you keep happiness locked away in the next box you check, you will spend 95% of your time hating where you are and 5% riding the high of whatever achievement you hit.
And that’s how you’ll spend your life until one day you wake up and realize you spent all of your life waiting to live instead of actually living.
I spent 25 of my years living that way. I’m so thankful I’ve changed my perspective, but I also kick myself for letting my ego call the shots for that long.
Today is all we have. So get out there and do something with your time that makes you feel alive.
You don’t have to stop dreaming, and you don’t have to stop achieving. But stop making that all you do.
Make the process as fun as the goal, so that when you finish, it’s just the cherry on top. Because you know that you lived, learned, and had a ton of fun along the way. Because that’s what it’s all about, anyway!
That doesn’t mean the journey is always easy — toxic positivity is never the goal.
It only means you stay present and commit to making the process as good (and hopefully better!) than the outcome.