This is the time of year when most people set goals, make intentions, or define outcomes for what they want to do or create.
Our culture gives a lot of attention to the doing part. What’s on your “to-do list,” what do you achieve, etc.
But there’s another question that’s even more important to determining what kind of year we’ll have, and we give it almost no attention.
How do you want to feel?
There are two ways we can use this question as we consider our outcomes.
How Will You Feel When You Finish?
I say we give this almost no attention because sometimes we use the questions of how do you want to feel or how will you feel as a technique to strengthen our resolve to do what we want to do.
If you’re a procrastinator, it’s likely someone has tried this with you:
Think about how you’ll feel when you finish.
I’ve lost count at how many times I’ve heard this. It’s never served to motivate me, likely because ADHD creates challenges in the areas of both emotional regulation and the future timeline.
My personal experience aside, for many people this can be a helpful approach to connect with your motivation, if you can associate to the feeling you expect to feel at the end.
That’s a big if, because people, in general, are poor predictors of our future emotional states. Studies show that what we think will make us happy very rarely does.
Intensifying that challenge is that expectations create suffering. If we expect to feel a certain way and we don’t meet that expectation, we’ve now created a bigger problem.
There have been many times in my life when I kept my nose the grindstone as I slogged through a project, the expectation of feeling elated or relief the only thing keeping me going. Then, as I crossed the finish line of my big achievement all I felt was … meh.
Not even a sense of relief that it was over.
Sometimes I even felt depressed after a big accomplishment. When I didn’t feel the high, I’d feel the low. I did all of this work, and … now what?
That’s one of the reasons achievement junkies continue to push for bigger or more. If we didn’t feel the rush from climbing this mountain, maybe what we really need is a bigger mountain.
At some point, if you’re observant of your own experience, you realize that you might not feel the way you think you’re going to feel when you reach that the finish line.
You realize that the promise of the destination is an illusion.
That’s when the trick of associating to how you expect to feel at the end no longer works.
How Do You Want to Feel On the Way?
Instead of creating an expectation for how you’ll feel when you reach your destination, only to be disappointed when you don’t feel that way, I invite you to consider a different approach:
Choose how you desire to feel on your journey.
Let’s say you anticipate that when you reach you’re big goal you’ll feel relaxed. Why wait?
Choose to feel relaxed now, as you start. Travel the path in a state of feeing relaxed.
Here’s the bonus: if you feel the way you want to feel from the start of your journey, you’re likely to feel that way when you reach the finish line. In fact, you’re more likely to reach the finish line.
You don’t need to associate to some hypothetical way of feeling in the future. Choose how you want to feel now, cultivate it within yourself, and carry it with you as you travel the path.
How do you want to feel this year?