Years ago a wise woman gave me some very good insight that I didn’t fully grasp at the time (yet another case of delayed learning): Beware of goal post happiness.
She could see how I had the tendency to think that I would be happy after achieving a certain milestone, and that as I reached each marker, another one instantly took its place. Happiness would be put off over and over. As I was telling her I understood what she was saying, mentally I brushed it off claiming delayed gratification as a virtue. Somewhere inside, however, it felt like it was delayed indefinitely. It seemed that once the hourglass measuring the time until I could be happy got close, it got tipped over again.
I would have a moment of elation knowing I’d finished a goal for which I’d worked long and hard, and before I could even catch my breath, an ever bigger obstacle would stand between and my ultimate goal. At the time, I thought if I were happy, I would lose my drive to succeed.
While now I no longer am waiting on happiness, without those firm goals and all-or-nothing determination to complete them, it’s easy to get caught up in the monotony and allow days to blur together.
In my quest for finding meaning in my life, I often confuse goals and busy-ness with the profound answers I’m seeking. I feel so fortunate that lately, since I started down a new path, I am enjoying the journey, as well as actively seeking the destination. When I get sidetracked, I view it as a adventure and knowledge gained as opposed to a waste of time.
The me of right now would be so much better at appreciating the undergrad experience than I was back then. I would explore new topics simply because they interested me, and be there for the learning instead of just the grades that would help me get into graduate school (the next goalpost on the road to happiness). Then again, without that ever present need to keep barreling down that path, would I even have graduated? See, this is why I try not to Mr. Destiny myself and mentally lead my life on a different (non-existent) timeline.
What kind of student would you be today? Are you more or less focused now than in your youth? Is that a good or bad thing?