5. Success is disappointing

Uncategorized Feb 12, 2020

The pleasure that comes with getting what you want is often fleeting. You dream about getting a raise, achieving the body composition you want, or nailing that new PR. 

You work at all waking hours. You imagine how happy you would be if you just achieved that goal. 

Then you succeed. And if you're lucky you get an hour, maybe a day of euphoria. Especially if your success was a surprise. Think award shows: "the envelope please..."

Most of the time though you don't get any euphoria. When success seems probable and some final event confirms what you expected the feeling is more of relief. One of closure and release. In such situations your first thought will rarely be "Yes! Amazing!" It is probably going to be more like "Nice. What do I have to do next?"

When it comes to goal pursuit it really is the journey that counts, not the destination. 

Set any goal you want. Most of the pleasure will be had along the way with every step that takes you closer. 

Your final moment of success is not any more thrilling than the thousands of steps it took you to get there. It's no different than the joy of taking off your shoes after a long day. If you go about your day just to feel that pleasure at the end you are a fool. 

But sometimes we do just that. We work hard at a task and expect some special euphoria at the end. But when we achieve success and find only molecules of what we expected and short lived pleasure we ask "Is this all there is?" 

We devalue the accomplishment thinking "I'm chasing trivial pursuits." 

This is called the progress principle. Pleasure comes more from making progress towards a goal than from achieving them. 

If your goals are outcomes the things you do to achieve them are processes. Count those and take joy in the doing, not achieving.

Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing.... Men prize the thing ungained more than it is. 

- Shakespeare


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