Posted on September 17, 2020
What if I told you that ultimate achievement (winning the big game, closing a huge deal, a massive promotion) shouldn’t be what we give all of our attention to within our careers? Like, not at all.
Not that they’re not great and massive accomplishments – they are. But, they’re ephemeral, and our brain is really bad at understanding how they’ll truly make us feel, and what they’ll do for us.
What does the brain instinctively TELL us about those accomplishments?
First, that it knows EXACTLY what it will feel like if you succeed or fail to reach it. Essentially, it tells you that it can feel the high of the high, or the lowness of the low. Problem is that it can’t. The brain inflates both to their extremes. The brain is a bad predictor and estimator of feeling.
It makes sense – it’s built in to our survival instinct. It creates a drive to gobble up more and more of the good feeling, and to prevent more of the bad feeling.
Here’s the reality. The “ultimate success” moment if it happens will spike a positive emotion for sure, but actually doesn’t last long. A day, maybe a few, if you’re truly lucky maybe a week. And, the pain if you don’t reach it can be rough. But….it doesn’t kill us. It does fade. Life will continue, and we always move forward. Sometimes we even learn or grow in the exact way we needed to because of it.
So, if we reach it it’s a great moment, but it’s actually a bit fleeting. And even when temporarily defeated, we can go on to build an even more fulfilling present and future, that’s broader, deeper, and greater.
What does this really mean than? Well, we should still definitely “go for it” and not be afraid of failing, because we’ll almost always be just fine, and maybe even better for it. The journey is definitely worth it. And, if we’re being real with ourselves, we shouldn’t expect life to change too much when we do reach these outcomes.
So, what should we give our deepest attention to? The daily successes. The moments when you master something that you never could do before. The growth. The struggle. The fleeting moments. The relationships. The testing of yourself. The moments when you know – inside – that you did well and that no one needs to tell you that. And, of course, the moments when you help others to achieve as well.
It’s so fucking cliché, but it really is about the journey. If you can define your deepest values, and then align with them in your sport, your work, and your life – it’s right there. If you can attempt to do things that help others to have success, help your organization have success than you’re already experiencing the things that your brain wants to convince you are coming down the road if/when you finally reach _________ …whatever that may be?
It’s our attachment to what’s down the road that creates the suffering.
The genius though is that the gratitude – the fulfillment- are already happening and are possible, if you just know where to look.
Daily gratitude for what is, and what we’re already experiencing isn’t something that our brain instinctively does, so we need to train ourselves to do it. It’s not difficult. Doesn’t take up a ton of time, and the reward is amazing.
Society’s (and truly the marketing machines) messaging wants to keep you thinking that your happiness and fulfillment are just beyond your reach, and that the “next success” (or purchase) will be the one that brings you to that ultimate place. It won’t. But the cool part is that it’s actually already there – you just may need to refocus your lens.
Stuart Singer, M.Ed., and PsyD (ABD) is the Director of WellPerformance, a Mental Performance Coaching and Consulting practice, and the creator of the DoSo app https://t.co/R61vbpda4X
For more information regarding this topic he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @wellperformance, or instagram: wellperformance