Friday, March 28, 2014

The Planning, The Process, and The Prize

Photo Credit: Sura Nualpradid
I seem to quite good at setting goals, but not so good at seeing them through. In the rare instance that I have seen a goal through to the end (either because of the genuine desire or genuine necessity), I've often reflected in how I felt after I've achieved a goal. I am beginning to see a pattern.

First, I am excited to be starting a new project. It is usually all I can think about or talk about (to anyone who will listen). I know I'm deep in a project when I begin dreaming about it. This happens with any goal I've set. When I started researching the low carb way of eating a couple of years ago, I submersed myself in information that would allow me to learn all I could about it. When I completed a NaNoWriMo challenge back in 2008, I lived, breathed, and slept my novel(ette).

Later, I become overwhelmed at the sheer size of the task in front of me. This is when that ugly self-talk comes creeping into my brain. ("You'll never finish this." "What made you think you could do this?" "You're going to disappoint everyone?" "They're all going to laugh at you...") This is usually the stage where goals are not realized. I never move pass the anxiety to work through it. For the goals that are reached, I usually have some form of accountability that sees me through to the end. (For my degree, I knew my family depended on me. That and the fact that I had taken out all of this money in student loans and knew that quitting was not an option.)

A little while later, the euphoria comes back. "Yes, I can do this!" "Yes, I can finish." This stage usually occurs when I'm deep in a project and things are going well. I have a momentum that keeps me going. (With my low carb eating, I was losing inches and weight and it felt good! People were beginning to take notice, providing me with that external motivation.)  

Enter another bout of anxiety riiiight...here. This stage actually repeats itself quite frequently through the process, depending on how long the project lasts or how big it is,

Finally, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am almost there. It is going to feel so great to finally reach my goal!

Until I do.

After reaching a goal, I feel a moment of euphoria and then an unbelievable feeling of let down. Suddenly, reaching a goal has become terribly anticlimactic. I forget about every struggle I went through to get to where I am currently standing and instead have inner dialogue with myself:

"That wasn't so bad." (When it really was...at least at the time.)
"I could have/should have done it better/differently." (Maybe or maybe not. But the truth is, I did the best I could at the time. And why don't I just bask in the glory of my accomplishment?)

The doozy - "What now?"

"I've lost 25 lbs. What now?" (Do I lose more? Do I start an exercise regime?)
"I've graduated college. What now?" (Do I go back to earn a more advanced degree? What area?)
"I've written a 50,000 word novelette. What now?" (Do I write more? Do I edit it? Do I start another one?)

I was so concerned with this facet of my psyche that I asked the Man Beast his process in accomplishing goals. He agrees that for him, goals are anticlimactic and he finds himself searching for more. So, either we're both very broken or both very human.

What about you? Do you enjoy the planning, the process, or the prize?

Until next time...


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