At an earlier startup, we sold software to large corporations which entailed wrangling many people together in order to make a sale. Usually, it entailed convincing engineers it was the right decision, them convincing their management to do something, followed by a negotiation over business terms, and then approval of the budget. The whole process could easily last 6 months. Typically though, we knew we had won the engagement long before we received final approval and by the time the cash hit our corporate bank account, we were busily working on and worrying about the next engagement. It’s hard to celebrate something that’s not final, but also hard to feel like celebrating something that feels like it already happened. We had to make a conscious choice to celebrate our victories along the path.
We tend to think that reaching our goals will feel like reaching a peak – once we get there, things will be different, we’ll see things differently, life will be changed. Instead attainment of goals is more like the mile markers on the freeway, when we achieve one thing, we are already looking forward to the next. Much of life has this continually shifting nature, birthdays, graduations, new jobs, new homes, new cars. All seem like they might be peak experiences when in reality most simply mark distance traveled. This isn’t to say that there aren’t things that bring a dramatic shift to life, getting married, having children, moving across country all bring large shifts that will impact the rest of our lives, but most of life is a series of milestone markers along the way.
We can either be disappointed by these transitions not feeling like summits, or we can instead use them as a moment to reflect on the distance we’ve traveled and look forward to the journey ahead.