We talk a lot about goal setting, why it's important to have goals, how you can improve your chances of reaching that "end goal," etc. What we don't talk about as often is what to do after you've reached/accomplished your long-term goal - now what? How do you continue with forward progress? How do you decide what will be your next big goal?
If you're anything like me, you looove the feeling of checking items off your to-do list. If you're a lot like me, you add super easy things to that list just so you can feel accomplished by checking them off (example: wake up, make coffee, ponder life, etc.). But even us fans of the easy tasks and super-short-term goals will at some point experience the post-'big goal'-lull. We've found ourselves at the top of the staircase, at the edge of the map, or whatever metaphor you use for the journey towards your end-goal. It can be hard to move on from this feeling of being on top just to turn around and start to tackle a whole new goal. Here are a few things that can help make that process a good one.
1. Celebrate! You reached your goal! This could be a huge checkpoint in your life. Maybe you graduated, or got the promotion you've been working towards, or completed the highest level on the video game to which you've dedicated the past six months (hey, it's your life). Whatever it is, it's important & it's worth acknowledging, taking pride in, and celebrating.
2. Break it down. Review your success(es) while fresh in your mind. What did you do well that you'd like to continue doing? What did you do that was unhelpful and that you'd like to improve upon moving forward? There's always something to pick up on for future reference - what is it for you? Experience is the best teacher, but we have to be willing to learn.
3. Take a break. You heard me, all of you never-stop-moving always-looking-ahead folks out there. We need time to recover - whether it was the end of a physical accomplishment or not! In order to set ourselves up properly for "what's next" we need to give ourselves that recovery period; we need to give ourselves a break. This is something that will be different for everyone. It doesn't have to be spending a week glued to your couch and then typing a strongly worded email to Netflix about which TV shows they should seriously consider adding (although if you do this, I have a strong case for The O.C.). It doesn't even have to be something "lazy" - just a break. Go for a walk, discover new music, journal, make new friends, spend time with old friends. The quality, duration, and nature of your break is 100% up to you. Just make sure it happens.
4. Set new goals. It's hard to last too long without a clear decision on where we're headed. So now that you've celebrated, analyzed, and recovered, it's time to figure out where YOU are headed. Maybe your next step makes sense and is easy to decide on (5k done, next step: 10k), but often times completing a big long-term goal means the ending of one chapter and the beginning of the next. It's up to you what you want this next chapter to say. Once you've got it, go through all of the motions. Don't skip over the small steps and the short-term goals that will get you to your new major goal. Use what you learned in step 2 and make this time around even better, smoother, more fun, etc. Work your way down on your new goals to what you need to be doing today to get you there.
5. Believe it & follow through. You have a plan. You have a destination. The most crucial ingredient at this point is the belief that it's a good one. Believe that your plan will work and that you have the ability to see it through to the end. And then don't give up until you do.