We live for the honeymoon phase.

You may have noticed that when you traded in your old clunker of a car for something a little newer and better equipped, you felt like the king of the world. It may have been exhilarating to have those extra horses at your disposal or maybe you were more interested in all the creature comforts found within. This novelty factor, however, quickly wears off and the car soon feels like it’s not quite as fast as when you first got it. The truth is, the new car didn’t get any slower; you just got used to it.

When you set a specific goal for yourself, you may set out a plan as to how you are going to achieve it. If the goal is something monetary, like saving up enough money to buy the latest cell phone or video game system, then you may create some sort of savings plan. You are motivated to stick to this plan, because you want to get that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But what inevitably happens when you actually achieve this goal?

A Moment of Bliss, Then… Now What?

The fact of the matter is the reward is not so rewarding once it has been rewarded. You can work for years to achieve a certain success and you will be filled with overwhelming bliss in the moment, but once that moment passes, you could be left feeling slightly empty and without direction.

The Olympics are probably one of the best examples of this. For all intents and purposes, it is nearly impossible to win a gold medal. It’s hard. Really hard. Many of the athletes train for almost their entire lives just so that they can have that one shot. Just so that they can put it all on the line for the single fastest lap in the swimming pool.

Winning a gold medal can provide one of the highest highs a human being can ever experience. I can’t even begin to fathom the kind of elation you’d experience at that moment. However, after holding the medal in your hands for a while, you may start to question whether it was all worth it. It’s becomes a “Really? That’s it?” kind of moment. I know that’s how it felt for me at my university convocation.

The True Purpose of Goals and Rewards

The real reason why you should set goals for yourself is not so that you can earn some sort of reward when you achieve these goals. You can use the reward as your motivation, to be sure, but that’s not where the true value lies. Instead, goals and rewards are there to provide you with direction in life. This way, you can keep walking forward, rather than wandering around aimlessly.

I realize that this is going to sound incredible cliche, but it’s all about the journey and not the destination. The happiest and most emotionally-charged moment you will ever have is that moment right before you receive the reward. With the reward in your hand, it soon becomes time to seek another. Keep moving forward.