Choose Your Destination Wisely

Have you ever been excited to go somewhere, only to be underwhelmed and disappointed once you get there? Like, really disappointed? That somewhere could be a holiday destination, an art exhibition, a movie (think Spiderman 3, Showgirls, Year One, Battlefield Earth), a restaurant, a social event or it could even be the achievement of a particular goal. I call this experience ‘destination disappointment’ and it occurs when our hopes and expectations don’t align with the reality; the end result.

This phenomenon is very common in the realm of setting and achieving goals. Many people arrive at their destination (that is, they achieve what they set out to) only to discover that the achievement of that goal didn’t actually improve their life (emotional state, mindset, fears, anxiety) as they had expected. In other words, it didn’t bring them what they thought it would. The miserable guy with no money simply becomes the miserable guy with lots of money. Lack of money wasn’t really his issue. The unhappy single girl becomes the unhappy married girl. Marriage wasn’t the solution to her problem.

Many of us operate under the erroneous assumption that changing some aspect of our external reality (less fat, more money, whiter teeth, new boobs, bigger biceps, better house, faster car, more stuff) will automatically and drastically make our life (the one in our head) a much better ‘place’ to be; less stress, better self-esteem, more confidence, greater contentment. In other words, we’ll be happier.

Well, it ain’t always true.

Things Aren’t as They Seem

While losing a few pounds is great (if you need to), the only thing that weight-loss guarantees is physical change. I’ve met many unhappy size 18’s who went on to become unhappy size 8’s. Apparently, emotional issues don’t have physical solutions. I’ve worked with wealthy, successful people who climbed the professional ladder for years only to feel like failures and frauds at the end. Which means they probably weren’t successful at all. And I’ve worked with gorgeous, famous, popular people who – in the middle of their all gorgeousness, fame and popularity – were miserable and insecure.

Sometimes we arrive at our destination only to find we’ve been driving in the wrong direction and focusing our energies in the wrong place. Sometimes we look for meaning, acceptance and purpose in the wrong place. Sometimes we look for happiness in the wrong place. And sometimes we look for ‘us’ in the wrong place.

While it’s important to know what we want, it’s more important to know why we want it. Understand your why and you might just change your what.

Think about it.

“The goal is not the goal; the reason for the goal is the goal.”