We spend so much time in life looking forward to and worrying about the future. We put so much energy into the it that when we actually end up reaching milestones or accomplishing goals, they don’t give us as much satisfaction as we thought they would. Sometimes we’re even a little let down, because we’re left wondering what’s next. Here’s how to deal with the inevitable comedown that follows big life milestones:
- Remember where you came from. Sometimes it takes us so long to reach goals that we forget what it was like to be the person who set the goal in the first place. Think back to who you were then and where you were in your life, and that might give you a little perspective.
- Practice gratitude. You weren’t concerned about your last big birthday… until the party was over and you felt a little sad. Instead of focusing on the emptiness that calm periods can bring, think about how awesome it was to have all your friends together in one place celebrating your life.
- Set new goals. Maybe that feeling of coming down just means that we’re ready to set some new goals for ourselves. After all, we’re not always inclined to change and grow unless we’re being challenged in some way. Embrace the feeling as just that — a challenge.
- Be boosted by praise, but don’t depend on it. Sometimes the letdown occurs because we’re waiting for the love, power, and respect to come pouring in as soon as we hit a milestone… but things don’t feel all that different. Get clear on the fact that the only person whose love and respect is going to ever really matter is your own.
- Don’t put excess pressure on yourself. Say you just got married but you hardly have time to register your new Mrs. status because everyone is asking you when you’re going to have kids. Don’t internalize the opinions that don’t feel right to you, and ignore the timelines other people are trying to impose onto your unique life.
- Appreciate the work you’re doing. After you reach a big milestone, it can feel like you’re starting all over from square one, but the more that you can appreciate the work you put into it and not just the assumed outcome, the better. It’s just as honorable to stick to a daily creative writing schedule as it is to ultimately finish a manuscript. Hell, it might not even be good the first time around, so you’d better learn to love the time you spend working on it.
- Trust the journey. You’ve heard that life is a journey, not a destination, and it’s true. It’s virtually impossible to be “done” and “make it” when life will always present something else to do. Think about it on the small scale. Your house is never done being cleaned because you keep living in it…and that’s exactly what it was made for.