June was glorious. June was rough. An accomplishment-high like no other. And then came the fall. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
Okay, I think you get it.
Last month, I had my first real experience with post-achievement blues. The first day of our big product implementation was blissful. In fact, I lost count at the number of times I knocked on wood because I felt things were just going too well and that the other shoe would eventually drop. It didn’t — for the project, anyway. The next morning after the go-live, I felt sad and grumpy and not at all like what someone should feel like after such a successful project which, coincidentally, made those feelings ever more exacerbated.
I dealt with the feelings on my own for a few days and then willed up some bravery and started having conversations with others about it — friends, coworkers, my husband and, eventually, my therapist. I talked and thought and talked and thought and wrote and then wrote some more. I’m not sure at what point it happened but I began to feel better somewhere in the midst of all of the talking and thinking and writing. I’m sure welcoming a foster pup into our home and preparing for a big vacation helped take my mind off of it all as well. And, while I’m still dealing with some of those residual feelings, I can honestly say I’m through the worst of it.
Of course, we can always look to our dear friend science to provide some answers (I swear my husband didn’t make me say that), including the “arrival fallacy” and how dopamine plays a part in all of this but when you’re in the thick of it, sometimes a scientific reason isn’t enough.
Life is funny, isn’t it? We expect it to go one way or for us to feel a certain way and when that doesn’t happen, cue disappointment and frustration (among others). But, as a very wise human (aka, my therapist) reminded me recently, that’s why expectations are dangerous. Instead, we should look to intentions and always remember that you can still get to the same place (goal/intention) without going in a straight line (expectation). And, if you don’t get to the place, that’s okay, too.
Some resources I found helpful: