It’s the second after you feel the elation of accomplishment or the closure that you have finally reached your milestone when you start to feel vacant. What do I do now? It should have felt like more. Did I do something wrong? Was this really what I wanted in the first place?
You worked so hard for this moment. It was like you had to have tunnel vision to reach this place in time and now, it’s so, anticlimactic. Every bone in your body feels heavy and your mind feels all over the place. But you feel the pressure to move on and to work on what is next but the problem is that you don’t know exactly what that is yet.
Your listlessness feels like anxiety. You feel like a failure even though on paper you have accomplished so much.
What is this?
When we start on a journey we have all this energy that we go into it with. We make plans upon plans upon plans that when we finally get there we don’t know what to do with ourselves. We have been working towards this outcome for so long that without having that goal to accomplish, you question yourself and say “Now, who am I?”
The Lull Between Stages
It is important that between stages that you learn methods of recovery. For example, great athletes take as much time training for the race as they do to recover from the impact of the training and the race to their bodies. Living off dopamine all the time can be destabilizing. Dopamine is not a constant it and it can make you feel up one minute but without it, you will feel down the next. So you need to find a balance for yourself.
These top athletes have balance in their lives. To find balance in your life to use your downtime just as effectively as you would the time you use to achieve your goal during the journey. Dive into those self-care routines and give yourself that moment to relax your mind. Impulsively going after something too quickly right after completing a long journey. may leave you open to downfall. It’s also a sign that you may be letting anxiety take control of the wheel than by allowing yourself time alone to reflect on what is the true next step for you and what you want.
In the United States, we tend to define ourselves by our professions. So, if we don’t have that label it makes us feel inadequate at times. While we may love what we do for a living, having one part of our lives take so much of a hold of our identity makes us vulnerable so that if we lose that job or don’t get that promotion it feels like our very being has been brought into question.
Our lives have more than just work involved. We are a part of families, friendships, spiritual groups, and so on and so forth. Reflect on the many circles that you are a part of and redefine who you are based on those circles. No one wants to hear you talk about your job all the time. What other interests do you have? Is there something that you have always told yourself that you wanted to dive more into but have never done? It’s time to do it!
Community and Connection
When you’re with your family and friends and get past all the congratulations, talk with them about how you’re feeling. All of us at one point or another have felt like we lacked direction, especially after a big life transition. Let them know how you’re feeling. You are not being ungrateful regarding your successes when you talk to your circle, you’re being honest about not being sure where you want to go from here.
Your community may be able to advise you better than you think. They have been through their own experiences and have their own stories that help to be able to be a good advisor for you. They also may be able to introduce you to other people or programs that may be out there to help you figure out your next step.
Feeling connected to others is important. You don’t have to be on this journey alone. It may feel like it sometimes but rest assured there is always someone who wants to connect with you on a deeper level than, “so, what do you do for a living?”
Value and take advantage of those that are interested in you and genuinely, want to be there for you.
Learning to Value the Journey Over the End Result
It’s natural to feel a down after a long journey toward one singular goal. Over time you will learn that a goal is just one stop of many on the road we call life. (Is that too cliché?)
It’s also why it is important to take the time to do some value discovery. We follow our values our whole lives never to perfectly attain them. We are always striving for them. A goal is tangible. It is attainable. It has a beginning, middle, and end.
The journey aka the process aka life can be very long. Learning to enjoy the entire journey instead of the endpoint to feel secure, adequate, successful or whatever other feelings you attribute to reaching that one goal will only result in a temporary experience of those feelings. Readjusting your focus to value the path more than the destination will let you be able to keep a balance with your feelings.
In the end, we are not just about that one goal. We are so many things more than something that is achievable and time-limited. We are complex, dynamic and intricate beings. And it’s time to recognize that.
And By the Way!
My name is Tara. I am a therapist who provides online counseling services in the state of Illinois. This blog post is not therapy and it should not be used as a substitute for therapy. If you would like to talk more, you can schedule a free 15-minute consultation, click here!