How to Avoid Feeling Empty and Flat After Achieving a Goal

Yew tree covered in moss at Stanmer Park, Brighton, UK.

Winston Churchill knew a thing or two about success and failure. Both are fleeting and contain information. It’s good to remember this, especially when you reach a goal and you’re suddenly empty and flat. Here’s a personal story about that and how to avoid it.

After I completed my coach training I needed to complete 100 hours of coaching in two months in order to apply for accreditation. I already had about 20 hours so I needed 80 more. I focused all my energy on this goal and found myself with 98 hours the day before the deadline and no more coaching calls booked in.

I sent out emails to my network. Nothing came back until that evening when two people asked for sessions the next day. The next day I woke up hoping the clients wouldn’t cancel. They didn’t. We did the sessions and they were very pleased with their outcomes. So was I! All I needed to do was add their initials to my coaching log and send it, along with my application.

Once this was done I felt ecstatic! I had achieved the goal I had lived so intensely for over two months. The ecstasy wore off, of course, and what was left was an empty, flat feeling that lasted for months. Okay, so those feelings probably had something to do with unprocessed childhood trauma too but I didn’t know it at the time.

What would have helped me then, that I fully understand now, is it’s important to have a long term plan beyond an important goal. Then, after you’ve celebrated and reflected, you can start work on the next part of the plan and set goals for that. This way, the empty, flat feeling cannot happen because your goals are part of a larger process. And that’s because they’re linked to your personal vision, which is linked to your values, purpose and integrity.

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I’m the Kindness Coach and I partner with survivors to envision and live from their highest values, purpose and integrity.

Energy Flows Where Thought Goes – What Are You Thinking?

In the spirit of the phrase, “energy flows where thought goes,” what was one thing that was awesome for you about 2020? Keep focusing on the question until you think of it. It could be big or tiny… When you think of that one thing, how do you feel when you think about it?

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Intentional Team Meetings with Big Me and Small me

Infinity and Beyond

When you want to create conscious change in your life, it’s important to set intentions. This week I’ve been working with my intention of a daily Team Meeting for Big Me and Small Me. Who are they? I hear you say. Read on and I’ll tell you more…

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Tapping into What Heals

When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. Ram Dass

When you look non-judgmentally at the parts of you that criticise and attack you from within it’s like tapping into what heals. Often those critical parts are trying to protect you from unwanted feelings or are fearful about uncertainty. They create bad feelings that feel absolutely true. But they’re not.

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How to Stop Beating Yourself Up and Feel Happier

I drew this image in 2018 as a way of externalising that critical voice that beats me up. This is just one of the forms I’ve given it over the years.

I’m late writing this blog post because I had writer’s block. When I delved deeper into why I couldn’t begin writing I found a critical inner voice saying, “no point in writing because people will be like, ugh! Oh shut up!” I asked myself what it was protecting me from and I realised I didn’t want to feel disappointment that people might not read or comment on my blog post. Now I know this I can accept that fear: yes, maybe they will not read or comment, and I will have learnt a bit more by writing, and now I can write. My example highlights one of the purposes of self-criticism: to avoid potentially painful feelings. In this post I’ll share more about why we self-criticise, how self-criticism is linked to the fight/flight system, and how we can stop beating ourselves up and feel happier.

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How Trauma Gets in the Way of Your Goals and What You Can Do About It

Trauma is not the event(s) that happened to you, it’s how you are affected by those events.

Every noise, every touch, the stones beneath my feet, the splash of fountains from a window, crept evilly upon my senses. The air had a stinging weight like ocean waves. I felt myself a stranger to the world.

Circe by Madeline Miller

The quote comes from the character, Circe, in Madeline Miller’s book. The character was sexually violated and this quote comes some time after. She is describing a hyper alert state, which comes from being triggered.

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Can Vision Boarding Help Your Mental Health?

The traditional way of creating a vision board is to create one that contains images and affirmations for your future self. If, however, your Inner Critic is likely to beat you up for not doing the things on your vision board, or even tell you you’ll never do those things, it might be better to create a different kind of vision board. In this article, I’ll show you the one I made and I’ll share some different ways of using vision boards.

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Overcoming irrational fear in climbing

In January 2018 I was experiencing deep frustration at the fear that was paralysing me when I went to climb. Climbing was one of my passions and had been for about a year, yet when I went near the wall I felt crippling fear. I wondered whether my fear was related to the effects of trauma that pop up in my life, so I decided to research trauma and recovery, and set myself experiments to overcome fear. I recorded my journey in a series of blog posts, in case anyone else was going through the same thing as me. I thought I’d share links to those posts here because the sports psychology I used in my experiments might be useful to you. Here they are:

  • Part 1 – noticing habits and delaying acting on negative self-talk
  • Part 2 – how trauma affects the brain and how embodied mindfulness can aid recovery (if you can feel your feet!)
  • Part 3 – going slowly and gently is kinder than rushing full steam ahead
  • Part 4 – teaching beginners to boulder, dissociation (and how it’s not helpful in climbing), and how training plans can relieve anxiety
  • Part 5 – breathing to overcome fear, personal learning styles, and practising falling
  • Part 6 – Putting a learning style into practice and is a comfort zone actually comforting?
  • Part 7 – Questioning beliefs and does regular climbing normalise the activity and remove the fear?

Four months after completing that series I began a new journey as a Climbing Instructor at an indoor wall.