Recently, I finished off a project I had been working toward over the past few weeks. I had the opportunity to do stunt doubling work for a movie using my fencing skills. In the end, all went well and I doubled for 3 different women for the same film. Even though I already had a good set of fencing skills to draw on, there was a lot of work involved. I helped train other women with no fencing experience so they could work on the film. I learned choreographed sequences. The biggest task though was losing weight as I was told that the women I was expected to double were thinner than me. Through my efforts of working out and diet management I lost 8 lbs within 2 weeks for the show, and kept up my plan to maintain my physique until the show was complete. Needless to say, it was a busy 3 weeks of moving outside my usual comfort zones, requiring a lot of focus on a number of physical goals.
After I was done my work on the show, I was elated. I ate foods and drank drinks, which I had more or less eliminated from my diet over the past few weeks. I celebrated with friends and family. But as I did so, I started to feel a little down. It was the low after the high, a sense of having a sail with no wind behind it. It was time to take stock or lose the plot.
Most people go through this sort of thing after completing a big goal, whether the goal is achieving a belt level, losing a certain amount of weight, or competing in a competition. You concentrate a lot of energy and attention toward completing your goal, so when you’re finally there, you experience a brief high, which is usually followed by a low resulting from a sense of loss of direction. This is why people often fall out of training for a while after completing a belt test or fighting in a competition, and why people “yoyo” back to the weight they were before they started a diet.
Here are 3 suggestions of things to do after completing a big goal so you don’t completely fall off the wagon:
1. Reward Yourself. Completing a goal is satisfying. It’s a great feeling. Let yourself enjoy that feeling by celebrating your milestones. Reward yourself by sharing the feeling with friends or loved ones. Treat yourself to a nice dinner. Take a vacation. Party with the people who helped get you there. If you just dive right into another goal without enjoying your progress, you run the risk of burning yourself out.
2. Take Stock. Over the course of your progress toward your goal, you likely learned a lot of things. You learned things that helped you do things more efficiently, things that set you back, and things that you might want to incorporate into other areas of your life. You may have also met people that you would like to continue to associate with, and others that may have presented challenges that you had to overcome. Having a goal isn’t always necessarily just for the sake of its completion; it’s the journey toward it from which you learn the most. So once your project is complete, whether or not you achieved all you wanted from it, take the time to consider all that you learned from the experience, all the people you met on your journey, as well as the new opportunities that may have arisen. Like Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living,” so take the time to “examine.”
3. Move Forward. After taking stock of your journey toward your goal, take that information and decide what you want to do with it. It could be that you decide to build on the accomplishment and work toward a new goal that springboards off your old one, whether it’s developing a new skill, improving on one you think needs work, or simply working toward your next belt or competition. It could be that you decide to implement some of the things you learned into your lifestyle. Over the past few weeks, I developed a love for running, some new strength training regimens, and a variety of healthier eating strategies. While I may not do all of these with the same rigor and intensity as I did over the past 3 weeks, I do intend to keep most of these practises as part of my regular routine. In some cases, you may decide that the experience of having worked toward your goal made you realize that the thing you worked toward so hard isn’t a good fit for you, and you may decide to move forward in another direction. That is also progress.
Every project or goal you undertake in life has the potential to teach you a great deal yourself, about the world, and about the way you live your life within it. By doing the above practises, you help yourself take the most away from your experiences, whatever the outcome, to build a better, happier, more fulfilled you.