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Reach Your Goal, Now What?

Reach Your Goal, don't know what to do next cartoon. Credit: Nina Paley, Eunice & Mimi.

Reach your goal, phew…but

We spend a great deal of time pursuing goals and dreams, and ultimately reaching them, or a version of them that we are happy with. For some, achieving the dream is oddly anticlimactic leaving a feeling of wondering what is next!

Two aspects are important here, firstly taking the time to celebrate achievements! 

How many times do we achieve a particular goal, only to skip recognizing its significance and quickly move on to the next thing?

Secondly, taking the time to reflect on the impact we are having with our goals on our lives – be it professional or personal. 

This reflection ties directly into the recognition step in many ways. Are we making the kind of difference that we want to have in others, in our work, and within our community? 

Sounds easy when framed like this but how do we make it happen in reality?

Before moving on to the next “thing”

As individuals, we are often taught to “work hard and keep on going”. A laudable value, however, is one that also intensifies the lack of time taken to reflect on our successes before moving on to the “next thing” on the list. 

This cycle of behaviour is not healthy for us and can lead to real and long-term health issues. Why is this the case? When we are under a constant sense of stress, our levels of cortisol (often called the stress hormone) remain high which tends to create a long-term systematic response of “fight or flight”. A tough cycle to break!

The solution? Celebrate achievements.

First, become aware of the need to celebrate success when you reach your goal or objective. Awareness is possible through visualization. For instance, think about a sports event you’ve seen recently from soccer to athletics. A winning score, record time, or homerun, all of them have something in common. Visible signs of success – high fives, fist pumps or team members lifting a scoring player up. 

Second, make it personal. The celebration can be its own reward and maximize “feel good” endorphin effects. Additional benefits follow when the “feel good effect” reinforces successful paths which in turn motivates us to repeat helpful actions and behaviours. 

Applying it in real life

Imagine that you lead a team, and a major project delivery milestone has been reached. It has been a long haul, 4 solid months, and a great deal of overtime and working weekends. The project team members are elated yet exhausted at the idea of the next phase, another 3-month haul lays ahead! 

How might you recognize your team for their herculean effort and contribution?

A common, and simple action, which tends to be well received by most individuals is a celebration at work. Perhaps a short project debrief meeting followed by one simple action that most team members tend to appreciate is a working celebration. A short debrief meeting followed by a selection of popular food, and drinks, and ample time to socialize and laugh. Sharing funny stories, shared memories and good fun does wonders to bond a team and reinforce positive brain patterns for future success. 

An alternative idea might be to hold a short project meeting debrief followed by an award to each member of a dinner for two at a restaurant of their choice, or something similar that would allow them to show appreciation to a loved one for their support during periods of extended work or time away from home.

The choice of rewards should be tailored, as much as possible, to the individuals involved. 

Seize your moment to lead once goals are reached!

Two important steps underpin recognition: awareness and personalization. Building in patterns of hard work, pauses, and celebrations followed by repetition effectively train our brain, making it effortless to learn. This cycle allows us to identify the specific behaviours and actions that lead to this “good feeling” so that will more eagerly do it again. Moving us one step closer to reaching our ultimate goals. 

Your turn

Sign in to the Community Member Area or comment below to share your insights with others relating to how you manage to reach significant milestones towards a broader objective or goal.

Give it a try!

Cartoon credit: Nina Paley,

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