When you achieve a goal you have set for yourself the expected feeling that of excitement, happiness, and a sense of fulfillment. But you may have noticed that sometimes when you accomplish your career objectives or any goal you set for yourself you start experiencing a feeling of some kind of emptiness. Once you’ve achieved that goal which of course, is a big one, after celebrating it for a while, sometimes a very short while, you begin to experience what is referred to as a downslide in the excitement, often marked by sensations of hopelessness, lack of fulfillment, and similar feelings associated with depression. You feel even worse than when you set out to achieve that goal. This feeling mostly comes when someone operates under the assumption that achieving a certain goal will make them happy. You feel extremely disappointed when, in the end, you gradually realize that your success doesn’t feel as good as you had anticipated. This is called Post Achievement Depression, also referred to as Arrival Fallacy.
What is Post Achievement Depression?
This is a feeling of unhappiness, emptiness or loss of excitement after achieving a goal. You kind of feel unhappy even after achieving a major goal. After the achievement you’re like “Yeeeh, I’ve done it!” Then your adrenalin is pumping, praise is flowing your way and probably, attention follows. But suddenly that energy and excitement stops. What you now experience is a post-achievement crash.
According to limitbreaker, this crash doesn’t always affect everyone the same way but for some it results in any of the following; a lack of motivation; the inability to start new projects or move onto the next ‘big thing’; Sudden tiredness and need for sleep/rest; Deep sadness that you feel you have no explanation for.
Thrive Global says when we allow goals – especially career-related goals – to take over our lives and our happiness, we can wind up neglecting other important parts of life as well, such as personal relationships, or non-work related hobbies. This imbalance could increase feelings of depression, despair, or lack of purpose. This empty feeling, according to Forbes, is called the arrival fallacy, and it operates according to the premise that as you work toward a goal, you come to expect that you will reach it.
Harvard Business Review said, based upon reader input, that workplace wins leaving you empty can come from a trade-off between career and personal goals, such as violating deeply held personal beliefs to get ahead in office politics. You may also feel your success isn’t recognized by others, or that your success may be the result of luck to an external factor such as luck.
How to Overcome Post Achievement Depression
The good thing is that post achievement depression has solution. You can actually overcome it if you follow certain tips.
To begin with, the suggestion by Forbes could help avoid sliding into this state of depression in the first place. Forbes suggests that it’s important to see success as fluid, adding that what is a great career for a 20-something “may be a poor work-life fit by the time you turn 35.” This simply says you should define success on your own terms instead of allowing society’s dictations of what career milestones are, to determine you’re your own perception of success.
To overcome post achievement depression, Forbes, The Huffington Post and Puttylike suggested these tips for getting past this situation;:
1. Rediscover your original purpose. It’s easy to fixate on professional objectives to where you would lose sight of this, and can be remedied with simple questions such as “What would I be doing if money wasn’t a problem?” or “When do I feel most alive?”
2. Look back at previous accomplishments, even keeping a file or log of successes and praise so that you don’t forget the worth of your actions.
3. Get started right away on the next task. The sooner you get your mind off what’s getting you down, the sooner it goes away.
4. Remember, it’s the journey that matters, not the destination. Enjoy the process, not just the outcome.
5. Don’t wait for praise from others. Give yourself praise.
6. Celebrate with a tangible gift to yourself, “to remind you of your recognized efforts.”
Thrive Global also adds that there is need to give yourself a break. According to Thrive Global, rather than hyperfocusing on the future, take a moment to sit back and appreciate what you have already accomplished, Ben-Shahar says. “Research from Harvard Business School shows that employees who focus on the progress they made at work are happier and more successful. Focusing on progress means not taking things for granted.”
Just know that life continues after every achievement you’ve made, no matter how huge it is. Once you achieve a goal you should know that it is not the end of life and you need to forge ahead with fresh goals. If you bear that in mind you might not experience unhappiness or emptiness after achieving a major goal. Also take out time to have fun after achieving a major goal. That way you can think of a higher goal to achieve or how to improve on your new level of achievement.