Have you ever had a big goal or mountain that you wanted to climb? This accomplishment is likely a milestone in your business or career. It could be a certain level of income, landing a big client, or gaining recognition in your field.
Once you made it, how long did it take for that feeling of accomplishment to wear off? You might expect to feel great about hitting your goal for weeks or months. But statistically, that feeling will last between 6 hours and about 6 days. This means that extended times of focused work over months or years have a potential emotional payoff of…not very long.
Reaching My Accomplishment Left Me Depressed
I’ve experienced this before. One of my lowest points was when I hit a huge goal in my insurance agency. I had been working towards this for years. It was objectively a big deal. And I had only about five minutes feeling the high of my accomplishment. Then, I began wondering if that’s all there was to my work. I was, quite frankly, very depressed.
So if achieving the award only lasts for a short amount of time, what’s the point? Where can we find lasting fulfillment?
I asked some of my colleagues what they thought. Some shared that they were keeping focused on the “why” behind their businesses. Others shared that the difference they were making in the world gave them lasting fulfillment. Psychologists even offer a philosophy of the four dimensions of job fulfillment.
Why I Value Progress Over Accomplishment
I personally have a different answer. The long-lasting result of your accomplishment is progress. Progress sustains your motivation and doesn’t fade after a few hours. So what is the difference between accomplishment progress?
The journey to your accomplishment is similar to a weight loss journey. Imagine you need to lose ten pounds. Some people may not be able to see that you need to lose weight. Others might suggest a quick fix or fad diet. You can even make every excuse in the book as to why you have that extra weight or can’t lose it, but it doesn’t change that you need to lose the weight.
When you’re working towards a weight loss goal, the accomplishment is nice. However, it’s the progress you make along the way to accomplish your goal that matters. It is the process. As you establish systems to lose weight and keep the weight off – it changes who you are. This change is sustainable, and your new habits are a lasting result from achieving your goal.
What About Business Progress?
Similarly, when you’re working towards a business goal, there is a journey you have to take. You likely are building systems or refining processes along the way to make progress toward your accomplishment. These systems will sustain the new level of your business once you reach it, making them much more important than the moment you hit your goal.
If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of emptiness once you reach a goal, it is probably because you failed to realize your progress. All the growth that you’ve had is in the journey of getting to the goal. Consider your last big accomplishment: What was the progress you made on the way to reaching it? Is that progress still serving your business?