Oscar Wilde once said there are two tragedies in life: not getting what you want and getting everything you want. The latter, he believes, is much worse.
We strive for things, work hard at things, and wish for things—then, once we get them, we feel fearful and overwhelmed by what’s in front of us. It’s unrecognizable to us, and we wonder, is this really what we wanted?
We have wanted that new promotion for years. Now that we’re in the new role, we’re panicked. Overwhelmed. Not sure we gel with our new manager. Uncertain how to bring the new team together. Not sure that we have the subject matter expertise to execute the strategy.
We had dreams of starting our own business, having the freedom to call the shots, and allowing free reign to our creativity. Now we’re six months past launch, start-up costs were way more than expected, customers way less than expected, and staff turnover a headache we hadn’t anticipated.
It’s a confusing emotion after wanting and working for something for so long. Perhaps we didn’t realize the demands of what was coming, that what we so desperately wanted just produces more work. And the reality sets in that there’s no arrival, no time or place where things are settled and “done.”
So we can easily wonder, once again, is this really what we wanted?
Whether it’s a child, a start-up, or a promotion, getting what you want can be complex, even difficult. It can challenge your identity, ask new skills of you, and drop a whole new level of work in your lap that you didn’t anticipate.
Ultimately, it will elevate you to the next level of your development whether you’re ready or not, so how can you prepare for that moment?
As you consider your personal and professional goals, ask yourself:
- What am I striving to accomplish?
- Why do I want XYZ so badly?
- What do I anticipate it will look like once I’ve gotten there? Am I being realistic about my expectations, or am I wearing rose-colored glasses and assuming the grass is always greener on the other side?
- With that filter, what do I think will change for the better once I’ve gotten what I want? What do I think will change for the worse? What will be different and harder, and am I prepared to deal with that?
- What will be asked of me once I get what I want that I haven’t considered yet?
- Is there something I can/should do now to prepare for the end result?
By being more self-aware and thoughtful about your motivators, your goals, and your expected outcome, you can hopefully avoid the confusing feelings of regret and overwhelm when that thing you really want comes to fruition.