Resolution: Cross a Finish Line.

A common happiness hurdle is the arrival fallacy. We think that we’ll be happy once we arrive at some destination: a new job, a new apartment, a promotion, whatever. But often, arriving doesn’t make us as happy as we expect.

That’s very true, and I struggle to remember it, and also to remind myself of what my father says so often: “Enjoy the process.” But this week I’ve also been reminding myself of one of my Secrets of Adulthood: the opposite of a profound truth is also true. Just as I should enjoy the process, and not wait for the happiness of crossing the finish line, I should also do the opposite, and revel in the happiness of crossing a finish line.

Too often, I don’t take the time to experience the satisfaction that comes from finishing. I turn immediately to the next thing I need to do, or the next finish line I need to cross, without pausing for a little moment of triumph.

For instance, if all goes according to plan, next Monday will mark a giant finish line for me. I’ve been working for months on a major overhaul of this blog, and on Monday, you’ll see the new and improved version. I hope you like it! It was an enormous undertaking, but I can already feel myself starting to think, “Okay, now time to tinker with the Happiness Project Toolbox,” “Now I can focus on Pinterest,” “I need to tackle that new stack of research,” etc.

But–this will be an exciting moment. I want to appreciate it.

Enjoy the last few days of the current design! I should take some screenshots as mementos (except that, truth be told, I’m not exactly clear how to take a screenshot).

It’s important not to expect too much happiness at the finish line, but I don’t want to enjoy no happiness at the finish line. As Nietzche explained it: “The end of a melody is not its goal; but nonetheless, if the melody had not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.”

Do you ever find yourself doing this: not taking a moment to enjoy crossing a finish line? It seems as though it would be so easy, but I find it difficult.

I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too! Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit. Join in —no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

64 thoughts on “Resolution: Cross a Finish Line.”

  1. Nice job on the blog!  Colour scheme is more cohesive, your categories are well laid out, I like how it’s all on the right hand side, and I like the hand drawn look for the follow-me links.  Lots of fun stuff to read here – what a great place to hang out!  Thanks for your hard work!

  2. Nice job on the blog!  Colour scheme is more cohesive, your categories are well laid out, I like how it’s all on the right hand side, and I like the hand drawn look for the follow-me links.  Lots of fun stuff to read here – what a great place to hang out!  Thanks for your hard work!

  3. Nice job on the blog!  Colour scheme is more cohesive, your categories are well laid out, I like how it’s all on the right hand side, and I like the hand drawn look for the follow-me links.  Lots of fun stuff to read here – what a great place to hang out!  Thanks for your hard work!

  4. I think what your dad meant is also to enjoy the present moment of the process… but then it also means : enjoy the moment of the arrival when the arrival is the present moment… ; )

  5. I think what your dad meant is also to enjoy the present moment of the process… but then it also means : enjoy the moment of the arrival when the arrival is the present moment… ; )

  6. I think what your dad meant is also to enjoy the present moment of the process… but then it also means : enjoy the moment of the arrival when the arrival is the present moment… ; )

  7. One area I’ve found quite deflating when finishing is courses of study. Whether it has taken a few years of night classes or weeks as part of a work place program I find I’ve got to the end wondering what next. One thing I’m working on is to enjoy the small finishes along the way such as finishing sorting a part of the garden or tidying a cupboard. More importantly having the next project ready is vital so that the momentum of finishing one thing can be carried on to the next.

    Like the new design – feels like a less is more triumph.

  8. One area I’ve found quite deflating when finishing is courses of study. Whether it has taken a few years of night classes or weeks as part of a work place program I find I’ve got to the end wondering what next. One thing I’m working on is to enjoy the small finishes along the way such as finishing sorting a part of the garden or tidying a cupboard. More importantly having the next project ready is vital so that the momentum of finishing one thing can be carried on to the next.

    Like the new design – feels like a less is more triumph.

  9. One area I’ve found quite deflating when finishing is courses of study. Whether it has taken a few years of night classes or weeks as part of a work place program I find I’ve got to the end wondering what next. One thing I’m working on is to enjoy the small finishes along the way such as finishing sorting a part of the garden or tidying a cupboard. More importantly having the next project ready is vital so that the momentum of finishing one thing can be carried on to the next.

    Like the new design – feels like a less is more triumph.

  10. Agree with the others…great new look, bright and happy looking, less busy!  Speaking of a finish line I finished the OBX 1/2 marathon today! A real accomplishment after I stopped training a month ago due to a foot injury, thinking I wouldn’t be able to do it at all. Did it in drenching rain even and I need to remember to celebrate it!

  11. Agree with the others…great new look, bright and happy looking, less busy!  Speaking of a finish line I finished the OBX 1/2 marathon today! A real accomplishment after I stopped training a month ago due to a foot injury, thinking I wouldn’t be able to do it at all. Did it in drenching rain even and I need to remember to celebrate it!

  12. Agree with the others…great new look, bright and happy looking, less busy!  Speaking of a finish line I finished the OBX 1/2 marathon today! A real accomplishment after I stopped training a month ago due to a foot injury, thinking I wouldn’t be able to do it at all. Did it in drenching rain even and I need to remember to celebrate it!

  13. I bookmarked the old site and today when I first clicked it, it was unavailable. I almost gasped and started checking Internet connection. Though I care more about the content and always get a mental booster from the posts, I love the new design, too! Another milestone, way to go Gretchen! 

    On a different note, since today feels a little different (probably because of the new design). When I came back to China, I brought home the happiness spirit and bought my mum the Chinese version of the Happiness Project. She loves it and raves about it. It helps relieve her from her illness and mild depression. I told my mum you are the kind of women I’d want to be. She likes the idea, a lot :)

    Thank you for everything! :)

  14. I bookmarked the old site and today when I first clicked it, it was unavailable. I almost gasped and started checking Internet connection. Though I care more about the content and always get a mental booster from the posts, I love the new design, too! Another milestone, way to go Gretchen! 

    On a different note, since today feels a little different (probably because of the new design). When I came back to China, I brought home the happiness spirit and bought my mum the Chinese version of the Happiness Project. She loves it and raves about it. It helps relieve her from her illness and mild depression. I told my mum you are the kind of women I’d want to be. She likes the idea, a lot :)

    Thank you for everything! :)

  15. I bookmarked the old site and today when I first clicked it, it was unavailable. I almost gasped and started checking Internet connection. Though I care more about the content and always get a mental booster from the posts, I love the new design, too! Another milestone, way to go Gretchen! 

    On a different note, since today feels a little different (probably because of the new design). When I came back to China, I brought home the happiness spirit and bought my mum the Chinese version of the Happiness Project. She loves it and raves about it. It helps relieve her from her illness and mild depression. I told my mum you are the kind of women I’d want to be. She likes the idea, a lot :)

    Thank you for everything! :)

  16. I just found your website a couple of months ago and have been learning a lot from your posts, but I also learn a lot from the comments others leave. Just noticed that since switching to the new format, the older articles don’t have any comments anymore. Hope this is just a technical growing pain and you can re-link them.

  17. I just found your website a couple of months ago and have been learning a lot from your posts, but I also learn a lot from the comments others leave. Just noticed that since switching to the new format, the older articles don’t have any comments anymore. Hope this is just a technical growing pain and you can re-link them.

  18. I just found your website a couple of months ago and have been learning a lot from your posts, but I also learn a lot from the comments others leave. Just noticed that since switching to the new format, the older articles don’t have any comments anymore. Hope this is just a technical growing pain and you can re-link them.

  19. I love that you wrote this post.  I am a victim of the finish line mentality as well.  I often either move on too quickly, or let the goal I have worked to achieve simply unravel (as in, phew, glad I made it, now I can get back to normal).    I am working on being attentive after the finish line of goals in my own life as well. 

    I love the new look of the blog.  It is fresh and bright, and it looks fantastic.

  20. I love that you wrote this post.  I am a victim of the finish line mentality as well.  I often either move on too quickly, or let the goal I have worked to achieve simply unravel (as in, phew, glad I made it, now I can get back to normal).    I am working on being attentive after the finish line of goals in my own life as well. 

    I love the new look of the blog.  It is fresh and bright, and it looks fantastic.

  21. I love that you wrote this post.  I am a victim of the finish line mentality as well.  I often either move on too quickly, or let the goal I have worked to achieve simply unravel (as in, phew, glad I made it, now I can get back to normal).    I am working on being attentive after the finish line of goals in my own life as well. 

    I love the new look of the blog.  It is fresh and bright, and it looks fantastic.

  22. I am a new reader, and a first time commenter on your blog. I was linked here by Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s blog Ivy League Insecurities. I think it is fitting that this is the first post I read. I have a significant literal and figurative finish line coming up in less than 2 weeks. After a few years of fits and starts, I will finally run my very first half marathon on May 6th. This has been a dream of mine for a few years, and I am thrilled to be so close to realizing it. But something funny has happened in the past couple of days. I have found myself looking past May 6th, looking for a new goal to accomplish, instead of focusing on the one still in front of me. After reading this post, I have resolved to focus on the now. To enjoy reaching this goal. To take pride in my accomplishment. And to revel in it for a little while before focusing on my next steps.

  23. I am a new reader, and a first time commenter on your blog. I was linked here by Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s blog Ivy League Insecurities. I think it is fitting that this is the first post I read. I have a significant literal and figurative finish line coming up in less than 2 weeks. After a few years of fits and starts, I will finally run my very first half marathon on May 6th. This has been a dream of mine for a few years, and I am thrilled to be so close to realizing it. But something funny has happened in the past couple of days. I have found myself looking past May 6th, looking for a new goal to accomplish, instead of focusing on the one still in front of me. After reading this post, I have resolved to focus on the now. To enjoy reaching this goal. To take pride in my accomplishment. And to revel in it for a little while before focusing on my next steps.

  24. Taking an appropriate amount of time to savor successes and completing milestones along the way is just a very necessary part of keeping oneself replenished, refreshed, inspired and reinvigorated.  Also, per your previous post, this taking time to savor the success provides a wonderful opportunity to spread the joy and smile and laugh and celebrate with others–making THEM happier!

  25. Taking an appropriate amount of time to savor successes and completing milestones along the way is just a very necessary part of keeping oneself replenished, refreshed, inspired and reinvigorated.  Also, per your previous post, this taking time to savor the success provides a wonderful opportunity to spread the joy and smile and laugh and celebrate with others–making THEM happier!

  26. Love this design! I completely agree that every time I accomplish some ‘milestone’ I immediately begin looking to the next one.. it’s sad that I can’t just allow myself to savor my accomplishments instead of moving on to the next thing!

  27. Love this design! I completely agree that every time I accomplish some ‘milestone’ I immediately begin looking to the next one.. it’s sad that I can’t just allow myself to savor my accomplishments instead of moving on to the next thing!

  28. Like the “clean” new look!  I would say “marvy” but might have to hand in my man card for that!  Seriously, really find the look easier to read and find things.  

  29. Like the “clean” new look!  I would say “marvy” but might have to hand in my man card for that!  Seriously, really find the look easier to read and find things.  

  30. I used to struggle with this more. Working through a transformation process which has focused my perspective more on learning than winning has helped.

    Although I must also point out it was not out of choice so much to change as desperation.

    Achieving a childhood dream of becoming a zookeeper early in my life, and then waking up dissatisfied with life a few years later, I had resigned to the idea that life was always going to be about crossing one finish line after another. Never enjoying the victory for long.

    Funny though, a few years ago I started doing triathlons and was constantly trying to get better. Then, last fall, my trainer finally said, “you know Jared, it’s OK to take it easy over the winter and ‘thicken’ up a little.” It helped having someone tell me it was okay to take it easy.

    I find it easier to breathe in and experience the boost to self image of winning when I do it for myself  (as in there’s no cheering fans as I wave from the podium), as opposed to needing external validation and praise for accomplishing something… if that even made sense. LOL

  31. I used to struggle with this more. Working through a transformation process which has focused my perspective more on learning than winning has helped.

    Although I must also point out it was not out of choice so much to change as desperation.

    Achieving a childhood dream of becoming a zookeeper early in my life, and then waking up dissatisfied with life a few years later, I had resigned to the idea that life was always going to be about crossing one finish line after another. Never enjoying the victory for long.

    Funny though, a few years ago I started doing triathlons and was constantly trying to get better. Then, last fall, my trainer finally said, “you know Jared, it’s OK to take it easy over the winter and ‘thicken’ up a little.” It helped having someone tell me it was okay to take it easy.

    I find it easier to breathe in and experience the boost to self image of winning when I do it for myself  (as in there’s no cheering fans as I wave from the podium), as opposed to needing external validation and praise for accomplishing something… if that even made sense. LOL

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