Why is it that when you receive grades for your work you always feel unsatisfied afterward?
When the goal is the focus that you work towards you miss all the best bits that happen on the way to getting there.
My mate just got his long-awaited uni results back and was about to see his reward for the hard work and dedication he put in over the year.
He opens up the email and clicks the link.
Refresh, refresh and refresh again.
“What d’you get?” I asked
He responds, holding back his excitement, “A big fat first. Lets goooo.”
And almost as quickly as the result arrived, the joy it gave him disappeared.
“I worked that hard for that yippee moment, now I don’t know what to do with myself”
I think we can all relate to this, that empty feeling of ‘Why’ ‘What was that all for’.
Working so hard and so long to just receive a letter, that is ultimately someone’s opinion.
He waited a month and a bit for the result and doesn’t get much more excitement past seeing the result and that rush of serotonin.
Then it’s back to ground zero.
It feels like it’s the best metric we have for measuring how well someone has done at the moment.
But surely there’s no way you can properly measure creativity or creative work.
It’s all subjective. Maybe there is a system out there that has figured it out but for me, the current one doesn’t seem to work.
That’s an exploration for another time though.
Watching all this as the silent observer, it couldn’t have been a better example for me to realize that when you idolize the goals over the process of getting to those results you’re almost always met with some disappointment and loss in motivation.
When I fall in love with the journey of getting to the goal and just working on what I can do each day to get better, my motivation is consistent.
I guess if you never really stop or allow yourself to be completed by a goal, maybe you can avoid that feeling altogether.
The creative life is just an endless pursuit of becoming marginally better each day and with each day you become better at solving problems, telling stories, and connecting with people.
Now doesn’t that sound much more rewarding than working towards a letter, given to you by someone else, to decide your ‘value’.
I’m happy to be completely wrong though.
Let me know what you think.