132. Overcoming A Challenge Is Not The Goal
I recently got into a conversation with Cole Noble about rock climbing. Cole’s cool newsletter is called Coles Climb (say *that* 10 times fast!). In the newsletter he talks about his athletic experiences and explores the life lessons that come out of them.
He wrote a little ditty called Overcoming the Aftermath of Success that has been stuck in my mind.
Here’s the gist: as you go through life on your journey towards achieving your goals, you will inevitably encounter challenging moments along the journey. Getting through those challenging moments is always, well, challenging. It can be emotionally, mentally and, sometimes, physically exhausting.
When you finally overcome the challenge, it’s exhilarating. . You’re suddenly overcome with a flood of emotions, including a sense of accomplishment and relief. You can finally exhale.
It’s a damn good feeling.
It is so good that it’s easy to believe that you are done - that there can’t possibly be any further you have to go. People often become complacent after that accomplishment and confuse their sense of relief with the completion of the journey.
But, as Cole so eloquently said:
“Never confuse a single step with the ultimate goal”
The Goal is Not Achieved Simply Because You’re Happy
I’ve realized that I do this all the time - confusing a single step of a journey with the achievement of the ultimate goal. In fact, until I read Cole’s piece, I didn’t realize how much I actually do it.
If you think through your life, you can probably come up with a few examples yourself. Here’s one you may be able to relate to.
Earlier this year, I wanted to lose 19 pounds (“the COVID 19”). I worked hard to lose it - altering my diet, weening myself off unhealthy habits, exercising every single day.
And I did it. I lost the weight. It felt great. Yay me!
So I rewarded myself for the accomplishment. That little reward stretched from one day to another. And ever so slowly, I became less strict with my eating habits. After all, I reached my goal, right? The journey was over, right?
As the number on the scale crept higher, I realized that losing the weight wasn’t the goal, it was just one step in the journey and I confused that step for the finish line.
I mistakenly told myself that my goal was to lose 19 pounds. But that wasn’t the goal. Losing 19 pounds was just an arbitrary milestone I created. Being lighter and feeling healthier was the ultimate goal, and I failed to remember that.
Celebrate the Accomplishment.
It’s easy to emerge from a challenge where your only desire is to pat yourself on the back and sit down on the couch to celebrate with Ted Lasso and a pint of Americone Dream.
Though I’m all about celebrating accomplishments - and I love me some Ted Lasso - I’m also about recognizing that a single step’s success isn’t the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s always important to get yourself back up and continue on down the yellow brick road.
Whether it’s weekly, monthly or yearly, it’s important to remind yourself of your goals - with your career, your family, and your physical and emotional well-being. I do this very frequently and recommend you do too. It doesn’t take long and can be done while driving, walking or sitting and staring into space.
After all, we only get one trip around this planet. Every day that passes is another day lost.
Are you still growing and moving towards your ultimate goals or have you confused one accomplishment for success?
Maybe it’s time to get off the couch and get back on track towards being the person you hope to be.
Carpe diem, my friend.
Feel free to check out Cole’s newsletter. He’s got some good ideas and writes cool stuff. Here’s a good one to start with:
“Success is moving from failure to failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm."
- Winston Churchill