In either direction, we can over-anticipate our arrival at a destination. We can expect something amazing or terrible, and it may overshadow what actually happens. It can then be difficult to notice – or accept – that we have, in fact, arrived.

My son was once going in for a booster shot. I had explained to him what was going to happen, and that it may be a little uncomfortable. He worked himself up into a bit of a meltdown – but the shot itself barely bothered him. In fact, the shot was so easy compared to what he expected, that even on the drive home he was still worried – he couldn’t accept that the bad thing had already passed, because it was so much less severe than he had anticipated.

We experience this in reverse sometimes, too. We expect to feel a certain way upon reaching some milestone, and if we don’t then we think we must not have reached it at all. You think being “successful” in your career will make you happy, but it doesn’t – so instead of re-evaluating the goal, you just think “I must not be successful yet.” Because if you were, you’d feel happy, right?

What a cycle that creates!

I try very hard not to set “emotion goals” or even emotional predictions. I try hard not to let myself say, “when X happens, I’m going to feel very good/bad.” That can create some cognitive dissonance that I don’t want to deal with. Keep your goals grounded in real results, and your predictions centered around the physical world. Then, emotionally, say – “whatever happens, I will respond maturely; for I am in command.” Mark the arrival, and see it for what it is.

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