The Empty-Goal-Phenomenon: Why achieving your goals will not make you feel successful

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The Empty-Goal-Phenomenon: Why achieving your goals will not make you feel successful

Does this sound familiar: No matter what you do, you never seem satisfied? Although people around you, like family and friends, are proud of your achievements, you catch yourself always belittling everything you do? And even the things you thought that would make you happy or proud, do not make you feel that way and leaves you empty in the end?

 

Wanting more and striving for self-improvement is something that is not inherently bad or good. All that matters is often the measure. Self-criticism and doubt are very normal from time to time. They are a great booster to improve ourselfs. However, once these thoughts stand in the way of a happy and fulfilled life, you have too much of it. The wonderful thing is that these are “just” thoughts that are limiting you. Something that is not materialized in any way, therefore, in theory you should be able to change it, once you made the decision to do so. Here some thoughts that might help and motivate you.

 

Change Perspective: Accept that life it not achieving your goals

We are confronted with narratives every day in series, films and even business start to apply the art of storytelling to their marketing. Surely, you know the feeling of emptiness after reading a book or watching a good film or finishing a good series? But have you ever compared this feeling to the emptiness you feel after you reached a peak in your life? What is similar to both of these situations is the fact that we have to live on after a closure. Every good story has a well-rounded end: where the boy gets the girl or the underdog finally wins or the apocalypse is luckily prevented. That is where the narrative ends and it feels good. That is not life. Life has no closure. The end of your narrative in life is your death. But you could be hit by a car before you manage to find the love of your life. Simply because life does not work in narratives. Nevertheless, we adapt to the idea of closure and feel empty once we reach a peak - and have to life on. Achieving a long-pursued goal is just a moment in time. Research suggest that we have a baseline of happiness, which we return to after some time. No matter wether you won the lottery or lost your legs. Instead of aiming just for these peaks, you should rather aim to improve your baseline of happiness. This will boost not only your well-being, but also your productivity.

 

Increase your self-esteem

Have you ever experienced a situation when you totally questioned your opinion on the difficulty of achieving a certain goal, after a person, who you regarded as highly incompetent or not suited achieved that goal? Maybe that thought did come into your head, after an election or a promotion of a co-worker. In that moment we experience dissonance, as a feeling of lack of alignment of our evaluations. We like to be consistent in what we perceive and think. Often, in an attempt to match our realitieswe change our evaluations. If an incompetent person was allowed to enter that study program, that program might not be as exceptional as I thought, is was, we tell ourselves, for example.  

You could apply the same logic to yourself. Do you think you are competent? Do you think you are suitable? If you do not believe in your own abilities you are very likely to be dissatisfied with everything you achieve. Not matter how big your achievement is or how hard you have worked to achieve it. No matter what, you wil always implicitly or explicitly tell yourself: “When I have achieved this, it was not a difficult task, because I, who is not very capable, was able to achieve it.” Like the famous director and actor Woddy Allen puts it:”I’d never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member.” You will never feel successful and worthy unless you change your attitude towards yourself. Learn to be compassionate towards yourself and you will immediately feel more successful and also dare more.

Published on Sunday 8th December 2019



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