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I was reading an article in Red Magazine some time ago now which mentioned ‘the arrival fallacy’ and with everything going on in the world, the season of ‘new year new me’ fast approaching I think it’s a great time to revisit my thoughts on it. 

The article by Elizabeth Uviebinene introduced me to this concept which I believe (from basic minimal research) was coined by Tal Ben-Shahar, a positive psychology expert. It’s not a new concept as such but it’s definitely one I have thought a lot about over this last year and something I think we could all bear to take stock of at the moment.

Thoughtful, the arrival fallacy, black woman, gazing out of window

So what is the arrival fallacy then?

Simply put the arrival fallacy is the myth that accomplishing your goals is the key to happiness. If you’ve been in my world for a while now you’ll know I love a goal and so this really resonated with me in an unexpected way.

When we talk about goals we often speak as though the getting of the goal is what will determine lasting happiness, lasting success and yet when I was achieving them or indeed my clients were achieving, the feeling of joy was…momentary.

It was when I read the article I realised, with hindsight that my mind (and those of people I followed, admire, my clients and even friends and family) was stuck in a trap of sorts. A trap whereby there was always 1 of 2 outcomes. ‘Failure’ to achieve the goal and therefore the belief that you are less than or worse off because of it – huge disappointment or the accomplishment and then the sense of joy and loss. Loss of a direction, loss of forward momentum, loss of goal.

Having always been a believer in enjoying the journey I wondered how this belief that ‘when I hit that goal, when I get that achievement then I’ll be able to relax, then I’ll be happy’ might be negatively affecting my day to day joy. I’m sharing more about this in my weekly email, you can sign up here.

It negatively affected my day to day in many ways as it happens.

How the arrival mindset affected me

  • Feeling that I was behind other people in my industry
  • My self esteem was fragile
  • Speaking and sharing information in a way that reduced the journey to a necessary evil
  • I enjoyed processes in my business less
  • Feeling like a failure if I didn’t get what or where I wanted 
  • My goals felt heavy
  • Lacking enthusiasm for the day to day
  • I started living for the then and not appreciating the now
  • I was at times incredibly unhappy
  • My anxiety increased
  • I over extended myself over long periods of time to ‘achieve’ and burnout would creep in

The more I shared this theory the more I realised this is in itself a fallacy. Part of the ‘toxic positivity’ movement and that in order to better represent myself, in order to address some of these issues I needed to make some changes.

So how do you adjust your arrival fallacy mindset?

  • Don’t be afraid to set goals for yourself and your business but do so with intention to care for yourself along the way
  • Take time to enjoy the progress and growth you’re making as you work towards the goal
  • Share your enjoyment of the journey rather than the goal itself, shift your focus and you shift your mindset
  • Use your inner dialogue in a better way. I like to say ‘this is so challenging and I like it, it will be a great bonus when I get XYZ’ 
  • Take pleasure wherever you get it (in a healthy way obviously!) 
  • Daily work should and can be fun, figure out what makes it so. Mine is music, friendships and acting like a fool
  • Lots of people believe an appreciation or gratitude practice really helps with this
  • Take time away from your goals and allow yourself to enjoy ‘other’ time too – remember you’re building a life not a checklist

Woman, arms outstretched arms with blue background and balloons. Overcoming The Arrival Fallacy

I really love this quote by Dr Ben-Shahar

“Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey n our way toward a destination we deem valuable. Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.”

If you’re thinking about working together or would love to chat about how you might be able to improve in your unique circumstances head over to my contact page

Catch you later,

Amy x