The Arrival Fallacy
The illusion of achieving happiness by completing goals
Most of our world is driven by goals and achievements. The competitive mindset. The rat race. These have all become a part of our life in some way or another. This means that involuntarily or voluntarily our happiness is dependent on them. This is true for any field, any work, or any age group.
So any achievement in these we relate to happiness.
Often we assume that we will be happy when we get that promotion, get married, close that deal, have a baby, etc. And all these are examples of things that are fleeting, meaning they will keep on changing without a stop or an end.
This mindset of achievers is what creates a kind of hoax in their minds for happiness. But what we don’t realize is that this achievement is momentarily and the limelight fades away within seconds of achieving it. This is where all the pressure, stress, and emptiness with which you achieved the milestone returns again.
The illusion that we will reach our peak happiness once we achieve our goals and aspirations. In this mindset, we start believing in the false belief that getting to a valued destination can sustain happiness.
No surprise: It's a flawed concept. A recent study showed that people who worry about their levels of happiness—like those "I'll be happy when…" thoughts—actually tend to be unhappier.
So how do get out of this?
By thinking about it rationally. Does it then make sense to completely discount all your hard work? Well, no. Over the process, you learn from the highs and lows. Cherish the process of achieving something. Relying solely on the final event to determine your worth can make you forget that process.
So along the way to accomplishing any big goal, ask yourself these happiness benchmark questions:
How is this process benefiting me?
What am I gaining?
What makes me happy right now?
Keep setting goals
The arrival fallacy is more prone to pop up when you've "arrived"—and look around to see that you might still carry the same stress or pressure you had before. This can happen if you sacrifice one part of your life (like friendships, relationships, work, or leisure) to achieve a remarkable goal in another part of your life.
So what you should do, per Tal Ben-Shahar in the New York Times, is create more goals.
That's right. Go crazy. If you're consistently stretching yourself, even with accessible micro-goals, you'll be less likely to succumb to that empty “but-what-do-I-do-now” feeling.
Because there's no need to only focus on arriving.
Trust me—you deserve to enjoy where you are right now.
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