So, you finally did it: you reached your goal. After all the hard work, sacrifice, and commitment — the blood, sweat, and tears — you’ve achieved what you set out to do. Congratulations! Now you can just sit back and coast on your laurels until the end of time and all will be lovely and awesome. Right? Eh…no. Sorry.
Now, don’t get me wrong; reaching a goal is something to truly celebrate. I always advocate taking the time upon achieving what you’ve been working toward to enjoy your success, acknowledge your victory, and reward yourself in some way, shape, or form — no matter how small a reward it is. These victories are, after all, often hard fought and won. So, do yourself a favor and give yourself the credit you deserve.
That said, the work is not done. In fact, one could reasonably say that the work is never done. And this can actually come as a bit of a surprise when you’ve been so focused on actually achieving your goal. In all the years of teaching goal-setting through coaching and the Path Class, a very common question I hear is, “What if I don’t reach my goal?” So, it can be a bit of a surprise when the commitment finally pays off and you’re suddenly left with a successful goal in your hands. The question then become, “Ummm…what do I do now?”
Well, once you reach your goal, the work actually splits into two different tracks: maintenance and the next goal, both of which are fairly self-explanatory. But, let’s take a look anyway.
Maintenance means that whatever goal you’ve reached, you’re likely going to need to maintain it in some way or another. An obvious example would be if your goal was to lose 10 lbs. Once you’ve lost the weight you’re going to want keep it off, which requires maintenance in the form of a proper diet and possibly exercise. Another instance would be if your goal was to book a role in a production of some sort; once you’ve booked the role, you’re going to have to actually perform, which will require learning your lines, blocking, etc. This may seem elementary, but it’s important to keep in mind because there are plenty of instances where the joy of reaching the goal itself overshadows the work that will need to be done afterward.
The second track that I mentioned above is a new goal. Generally speaking, every time we set a goal, it's simply one step along an entire life path. When we reach one goal, it’s en route to another. That’s not to say that we can’t enjoy the spoils of our victories and take the time to savor what we’ve earned. But, there’s always something else on the horizon, and no matter how large or small it may be, it’s still a goal. And that means that you’re going to have to do what you’ve been doing all along: define it and plan for it. Now, the good news is that you’re kind of a pro at this, since you’ve already achieved one of your goals. So, take what you’ve learned — the good and the bad — and apply it to your next endeavor. The process itself is constantly evolving as you gain more experience along the way, and what you’ll eventually discover is that you’re naturally doing all of this work without even thinking of it as work. It simply becomes a part of life.
The truth is that without this constantly renewing cycle, we’d likely get bored. It keeps the rust from forming. But more importantly, it keeps us excited, inspired, and perpetually seeking to better our lives and ourselves.