Now What? What to do after you achieve a big goal?
It is inevitable. After all the work, dedication, focus, discipline, courage, belief that you mustered up to achieve a really big goal, comes this awkward phase. It may last for a few days, weeks or ever months. It is best described as, “Now what do I do?”
Let’s Explore this.
You likely knew ahead of time (especially if you have conquered several goals) that this season would come. If this is your first goal you are achieving – take note and embrace this weird place you will find yourself in. (Trust me – it will be there and it will pass.)
Those just rising to the level of success and gaining hold of what it took to reach this new level in life and how it changes you internally and also the exterior factors of your life – it is a lot of newness, and even discomfort. You’ve shed some old skin and grown into a wiser, stronger, more capable person. New things are just that – new. It will take a bit of time to adjust to this better you in addition to figuring out how everything in life will now settle – as it will not rest as it did before.
Whatever this big goal was that you recently achieved (Congrats!) often requires a resting phase following the big event. What you have done in this process of becoming the person capable of achieving it (and learning how you can maintain the results) is lined up energetically future bigger events. You don’t know it while in the pursuit. But it is true.
Every time we level up in life we are essentially telling the universe we are ready for bigger.
Or perhaps this goal is just a big step forward in a much larger vision for your future and you know it is going to lead to the other steps your bigger goal consists of.
In this “What now?” phase is relative quiet. You know you’ve changed. You know your life has changed (and will continue to). You might be looking around wondering where the magical shift actually is.
Just like achieving goals, receiving the results and rewards and discovering how it all comes into play – it all takes time.
While there is quiet and “What do I do with this now?” there is also likely odd burgeoning chaos. You feel like you should be immediately doing something with it. People who were a part of it or heard about your new accomplishment might be trying to nudge you in one direction or another. Yes, you can have the oddity of quiet and simultaneously feel and hear noise coming from many avenues.
If you are one who plans ahead and thinks long term, you probably have some idea of what is next or which direction you would like to move in. If you are new to long term planning – it is a good time to begin learning how to think in terms of years and decades instead of hours and days. Long term planning can help a lot in this “What now?” phase. It helps provide a sense of peace – for you have some direction, purpose and incentive to go with.
It doesn’t change or prevent the “What now?” phase from happening. Even for the highly successful and best long term planners – it still happens.
Because there are natural universal laws that apply to everything in life. Think about the four seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall. If you live in some regions, these four seasons are needed, in exact order, for most life to grow, replenish, and expand. Winter is the season for planning, thinking of new ideas, resting, and preparing. Spring is the beginning, taking new steps forward, planting the right seeds, encouraging new energy to emerge and grow. Summer is all about diligence, pruning, tending, hard work, sweat, making adjustments. Fall is a dual season, first it is about patience! One must be so patient and wise in order to reap a bountiful harvest. Second, it involves planning and preparation – how will you gather your harvest and what will you do with it? Then the seasons repeat the cycle.
When I mentioned that long term planners benefit and handle this awkward “What now?” phase better – they’ve learned to create their goals and action steps in cyclical patterns that work well together. They often have more than one big goal they are pursuing.
Goal #1 – Just achieved and now entering season of winter. (What Now? Phase)
Goal #2 – Entering fall and about to achieve it.
Goal #3 – Engrossed in daily effort this goal requires – it is summer – season of growing and work.
Goal #4 – You just decided to pursue it last month and are taking the first couple of steps towards it (spring).
In this example, during your “What now?” phase – while Goal #1 rests, settles and begins to prepare for the step in the overall vision, you are focused on preparing to harvest another goal and are diligently working on another. You give a few moments here and there and begin a new goal (#4). In this you are focused, still making progress on other goals and your time and energy is directed – meaning you don’t sit wondering “Now what?” At least not for long.
Most people don’t go after any goals.
Ever. Some people will strive after one and just one. They may or may not achieve it. Fewer achieve a good sized goal and dare to go after another (successful people). A small percentage will observe the process they used for achieving one goal, improve it while achieving another and they just keep learning, growing and striding after bigger things in life. This last group are the highly successful. (Example I used above with the 4 goals and seasons).
So what can we do during this time of “What now?” if this was the first real goal we’ve managed to achieve or we are not currently pursuing other goals too.
You can do a lot of things during this phase actually.
Here is what I recommend:
- Pull out your list of life goals and bucket list. Did this goal you just achieved help you make any progress on one of the items on either list? (If no, then you just achieved a goal without a bigger purpose.)
- What can you add to both lists? Take some time to think about what you would like to do in your life, who you’d like to become, what interests you that you’d like to learn more about.
- Think about this goal you just achieved in greater detail.
Why did you pick this goal to go after?
Who were you when you started?
Who have you become in the process?
What skills and experience did you gain?
Who did you meet in regards to this goal?
What were the steps you took to achieve it?
What were the challenges you faced along the way and how did you handle them?
What could you have done differently or better?
Would you pursue a similar goal in the future and why?
(Ask yourself these kinds of questions and write down your answers. You can use this information to help you plan for and achieve other goals down the road.)
4. Look at your calendar for the next year or so. How busy are you? Is it realistic for you to go after another goal? How can you incorporate another goal into your schedule?If you are wanting to go after another goal (utilize the momentum you’ve been building), pick one from the list you made and test it out time wise. Think about how long it might take you to achieve it, what steps are required of you by the goal and so on. See if it will fit well into your coming year. If so, awesome! If it doesn’t seem to match well – pick an easier one and select a duration of time during the coming year when it will work best for you to go after it.
5. Plan your new goal out. List what your strengths and abilities are now, what you will need to learn in terms of knowledge or skills along the way and just who you will need to become in order to maintain the results once you achieve this new goal.
6. Let yourself sit on this new goal for a bit. It is important to rest up from the last one and think about the big picture and where these goals are leading you.
What I want you to take from this is 2 things
#1 Goals take time to achieve, and so does receiving results and learning how this achievement fits in the grand scheme of your life. Trust that things, timing and your life has a purpose and it will all pan out.
#2 Everything has seasons. It is okay to find yourself in the “What now?” phase. All it means is you are entering winter for this particular aspect of your life. Look at some of your other goals to help time move more quickly and keep you focused. Think about this goal you just achieved – what are you going to do with it? Let the ideas light up and see how big you can dream for your future. The “What now?” phase is all about asking questions, looking over your process and who you are and the life you are living. It is about generating new ideas, thinking about purpose and direction for your life and exploring who you’d like to become. It is a very important season! Just because you are not taking actual physical action – the processing and planning stage lays the groundwork for everything else that is coming.
#3 Start with just one goal. As you learn how to achieve one goal, observe and learn from the experience and apply this knowledge to your next (one) goal. Once you have created a bit of momentum and know how to pace yourself and be flexible with goals in relation to life happening, you can take on additional goals.
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