Why achieving a goal doesn’t always make you happy
Why achieving a goal doesn’t always make you happy
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It is good to set goals, for example in your relationship, your therapy or in your life. You have something to work towards. A dot on the horizon that gives a sense of direction. But have you ever experienced that, when you reach your goal, you feel less happy than you expected? You focused all your energy into that one goal, but in reality achieving this goal can feel disappointing. The solution: do not fixate only on the goals, but try to be aware of the path toward the goal. How? We explain how you do this in this blog! 

Achieving goals does not always make you happy

The illusion of happiness when reaching goals is also called the “Arrival Fallacy”. This is the belief that when you reach your destination or goal, you feel happy. You expect happiness when arriving! But, this is rarely the case. Achieving your goals rarely makes you as happy as you expected and you probably did not enjoy the steps along the way. This does not mean that having goals won’t make you happy. Having goals is exactly what makes you happy, not achieving goals. By having goals, we have the feeling of being on a journey, feeling of grow and developing ourselves. 

Goals give even more challenges

Because you are working towards the goal, you are already used to your new situation by the time you reach your destination. Another explanation is that reaching a goal also comes with things you did not foresee. For example, when having a baby, this also brings sleepless nights and smelly diapers.

A different example is when reaching your therapy goals. You work hard to achieve your goals, but when you reach them, you already see new steps you want to take. Or you might realize there are more things to accomplish. This might bring some other emotions than only happiness. Achieving a goal often reveals some more challenges.

 The solution

It is easy to be constantly focussed on the future and daydreaming about a future in which you are married, have a baby, or finally reach your target weight. The thing that makes you happier, is trying to focus on the present moment and gain pleasure out of growing in the course of your goal. This does not mean we shouldn’t set or reach goals, but it merely means that the goal is not more important than the growth towards this goal.


By being present in the now, in this very moment! This solution may sound simple, but it can be a real challenge. Especially when you are having a tough time. Here are three tips: 

  1. Try mindfulness or meditation to focus on the now. 
  2. Enjoy on the way to your goals. Focus on what you experience with your senses. What do you see/hear/smell/feel? 
  3. Write in your NiceDay Diary which steps you made today towards reaching your goal, how small they may seem. Be aware of these steps. 
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Ilya de Groot

Hi, my name is Ilya, I am a psychologist and coach at NiceDay. I love traveling, good food, new experiences and exercising (roller skating and skiing). The balance between effort and relaxation is important to keep, are you managing? I would like to help you with that!

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