IF YOU ARRIVE, YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO ENJOY IT
Another problem with staking your happiness on long-terms goals is, that when you get there, you may not know how to enjoy yourself.
Unfortunately, in many cases, the very attributes it took to get you to your goal may be antithetical to enjoying it once you arrive.
Often, the goal-oriented person must develop a whole host of “unhappiness” strategies to reach his or her goal. To achieve what they want to achieve in life, they often deny themselves much in the way of everyday pleasures. Typically, them limit their “fun time.” They sacrifice their marriage and family life. They give themselves little time to enjoy life. Instead, they work doggedly ahead toward their long-term ambitions.
As the months and years go by, they are subtly training themselves into fixed behavioral patterns of self-denial and sacrifice. At the same time, they slowly loose the capacity to enjoy life — bit by bit, extinguishing any “happiness” strategies they once might have had. In essence, the single-minded pursuit of of their goals is entrenching their worst “unhappiness” traits deep into their personality. Thus, when they actually arrive at their goal, they’ve lost the capacity to enjoy it.
Here they are, where they always wanted to be! Now they in a place they always believed would make them happy, but they don’t know how. They’re still driven; still unsatisfied; still wanting more. Somewhere along the way, their ability to be happy was lost…
IT’S HARD TO KNOW WHEN YOU’VE “ARRIVED”
Still another difficulty with staking ones happiness on long-term goals is the matter of when you’ve actually arrived.
Most people usually have a particular level of goal-attainment in mind, i.e., “I’ve got to get into Medical School!” There, we have the assumption that when this goal is reached, we will be happy.
But what actually happens when we get there?
Well, we can’t be happy yet, because now it is obvious that we have to succeed in medical school and get our degree. So, only later, when we get there, apparently, is when we’ll be happy.
But now we have our degree and our Internship faces us. So it looks like we’ll have to postpone our happiness until we finish that and start our own practice. Thus, we do that. But it’s still just a beginning, because we’ve hardly started to achieve any respect or recognition among the other practitioners in our community.
The years go by, and we have finally achieved a high degree of local — and even regional — success and recognition. Yet when compared to those who are nationally — or even internationally recognized — for their medical work, we’ve hardly arrived at all. So when do we truly get there? When can we start to be happy?
If we’re waiting for success to make us happy, we may never know when to begin. No matter how many times we climb to the top of the achievement ladder we’ve set for our self, at the top rung there is another, even loftier ladder there — and we’re at the bottom rung of it.
No matter how high we climb in life, there’s always someplace higher to go. So if you’re waiting until you reach the top to be happy, you never will be.