Have you ever reached a goal…only to feel underwhelmed and weirdly disappointed?

You’re not alone! I’ve not only experienced this personally I see it professionally all the time.

  • you complete the 5k/10k/half or marathon only to feel deflated (even if it went amazingly)!
  • you finish a course or a masters only to have the sense that something is still missing.
  • you pull off an amazing project or event at work and don’t even feel the elation you thought you would…

This is so common I wrote about it in my book “The Elephant in the Gym: Your Body Positive Guide to Writing Your Own Health and Fitness Story.” In this excerpt I share a conversation I had with a client during a retreat and her experience with this effect.

“I reached my weight goal!” Alice shared.

I thought we were about to celebrate her success. Then she said, “I feel disappointed. I thought it would feel different getting back to my pre-baby weight.”

Someone in the group asked her, “Why are you disappointed?”

“All this time working out and eating well I kept looking so forward to the day I would be here. But now I’m here and I feel nothing. I thought something would happen when I got here.”

She continued: “Like there should be something more. But it’s just me, wearing my pre-pregnancy pants again. And I don’t feel any different about my body than I did before I began.”

Someone in the group asked her: “What were you expecting?”

She replied: “I don’t know…balloons and confetti!?”

We all had a good laugh – not because it was funny (though it was), but at the familiar absurdity of the situation. We could all relate. We’d all had that experience of achieving a goal and then feeling kind of… underwhelmed.

Oh man. Have you ever been there?

I know I have. In some cases I not only felt under-whelmed I felt down right depressed. This looming sense of “now what.” I expected there to be balloons, confetti, dancing unicorns, rainbows, fireworks – all of it. And it was just me, on the other side of the goal I’d set. Huh.

So how can you break past it? Here’s what I said in the book…

In health and fitness, there seems to be this pre-occupation with “getting there.” As if something magical exists in this place where we achieve our ideal size and physique. And even if you can get past the typical pre-occupation with the aesthetic, and focus on fitness and overall health, this deflation effect can still exist. When we finally find our consistency with exercise; when we run that 5k race or complete a fitness challenge…now what?!

There is no dramatic shift in how you feel about your body (or your life) when you get “there.” There is no change in your relationships with others, or with your life. There’s just you on the other side of your goal.

Here is the take home message I want you to hear:

Bringing your vision to life by developing a practice of health and fitness isn’t about getting “there.” This isn’t goal setting in disguise. There is nothing magical on the other side of your vision. The magic is in the process and practice of bringing your vision to life. It’s about who you become in the process and what you learn about yourself, your relationships and your life along the way.

Create a bold vision for your health and your life, and connect to that vision deeply and profoundly. Focus on the process of realizing your vision through daily practice – because no one else will do it for you. You bring it to life through your consistent commitment and perseverance. You do it by staying in the process and absorbing the many lessons that growth and evolution have to offer.

I recently heard from this client and she shared that she shared this amazing truth bomb:

“I feel like now I notice the balloons and confetti all around me.”

YES!!! This is the truth of it.

What if the balloons and confetti are everywhere?

Always curious I asked her, “What are the “balloons and confetti” you now notice? What helped you begin to notice them?”

Here’s her response (which she gave me permission to share) is brilliant. And so powerful.

“Meditation! Working on savouring moments, more laughter, more rest, more connections to community, more exercising the ways that brings me joy rather than what burns more calories, taking time in the morning to write down my goals and the things I’m grateful for. And I’m trying very hard to not think about what makes everyone else happy (this is so hard in my job). And finally feeling like I have friend connections with people who think more like I do and not trying to fit into places or with people that I have to be different for…”

Incredible. This is the power of a shift in the lens with which you view health, fitness and the pursuit of progress. This is the power of mindfulness. This is the power of presence in the practice.

Take home messages:

  • Notice your attachment to outcomes.  If you feel attached, ask yourself: what will shift in my life by getting “there?” Rarely will our lives dramatically shift because we reach the destination – they change because of what we do to reach the destination (aka the hard work, dedication, commitment and perseverance to name a few).
  • Practice presence in the present moment. When you are working towards things, make an effort to notice the wins along the way. The daily moments of victory. Those are the ones that truly add up.
  • Bring your own balloons and confetti. Celebrate yourself. Be proud of your accomplishments.
  • Remember it’s the small stuff. Know that the value of the accomplishments and accolades pale in comparison to the joy you experience in the journey.
  • Embrace the experience – each and every step! The mundane, the magical and everything in between. It’s all good stuff – it’s all worth celebrating – it’s LIFE!

I’m so grateful to witness these beautiful aha moments and transformations. I’ll take this over a glitzy before and after any day of the week. This is the magic. Realizing that there are magical moments all around you – if you simply slow down, take a breath, give yourself space…you’ll see them too.

Feeling inspired by this?

If this inspires you and you’re keen to explore this lens of kindness, self-compassion and mindfulness, consider joining us for the Super You Mindset. In this 4-Week Health + Fitness Un-Program we’ll be exploring self-compassion, body kindness and the concept of a body positive approach to health and fitness (what that ACTUALLY looks like in real life). You won’t walk away with a meal plan or a detailed fitness program (we’ve all been there, done that). Instead you’ll walk away with a newfound respect and admiration for your body, all it can do and a unique definition and sustainable practice of health that truly leaves you feeling inspired and motivated! For real! Join us!