We tend to give ourselves more grief than anyone else does. Some people may believe that beating themselves up will help them achieve their goals, but I wonder if they are actually enjoying the journey or trying too hard to get to the end.
The truth is that happiness comes from moving toward what you want – not from getting it – so the moment you reach a dream, you need to create a new one. This allows your psyche to have something to anticipate, and it creates more serotonin in the brain, which allows you to feel more joy.
Now it’s summertime, and many people are taking vacations, some of which have been planned for a year or more. If you’ve just returned from a pleasure trip – and hopefully it met many of your expectations – it’s never too early to start planning the next adventure. That way you’ll have something to be excited about and build upon. Every little plan or idea is a new source of pleasure. It’s a simple process with great results.
The same principle holds true for jobs and relationships. Whether your goal is to get into a different line of work or to find a job at all, it’s important to keep moving toward that goal. If you just keep your goal in the back of your mind, as something that may happen if you are in the right place at the right time, you will be disappointed. You need to take steps – perhaps not every day, but regularly – toward what you desire to achieve.
Sending out resumes is, of course, very important in any job search, but it is equally important to do other things to reach your goal. Many people, especially if they are currently working, do very little networking. But when you put yourself out there to meet new people, who knows what will happen? In addition to possibly finding work opportunities, you will become more aware of what is going on in your community and in your industry. All of this will serve to make you feel more empowered and give you some extra energy to find your dream job.
Similarly, if finding a relationship is your goal, Prince or Princess Charming will not knock on your door or magically text you out of the blue. It’s important that you put yourself in a position where you can meet people, hopefully with some interests in common with yours.
Lots of folks work out at gyms. Though most people are focused on exercising, there are always moments – while waiting for a machine or taking a break – where you can get into a little conversation. These days, many people are meeting at work or at business-related events, so don’t just hide behind your computer screen, but let the people at your job know you exist. A great way to get attention is to bring in some food. A box of doughnuts and some light conversation could get you a date with someone you know but with whom you haven’t really spoken.
I often tell people that finding a relationship is like finding a job, in that you have to do something every day to move closer toward your goal. With the vast availability of online dating web sites, many people choose to browse for mates on their computers, which is fine. But if you choose this route, please be careful. Since it’s very easy to lie in a profile, I recommend doing a background check on anyone you are considering dating. That being said, when looking for potential partners, the process of finding someone you might like will give you a little lift.
You may experience disappointment. However, you will find more happiness moving toward your goal than doing nothing but waiting for it to miraculously occur.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at [email protected].