after you reach your goal


What Happens AFTER You Reach Your Goal

My goal was to run a sub 20:00 in a 5k race. So, I trained— Hard!

I ran a 20:05 and then followed it up with a 20:10; it was elusive. I then ran a hilly course at the University of Tennessee and ran a 19:37.

Smashed it. Bam! Goal complete. 

I was a Ph.D. student at the time and a graduate teaching assistant. I was so pleased, that I told one of the SEC cross-country runners about my achievement.  I’ll never forget his reply, he said: “well, we all have to start somewhere.”  Heck, he probably ran a sub 20:00 5k when he was 12. 

I wasn’t devasted by the comment, because he just wasn’t that cool, but it did strike a nerve. 

My end goal was just a starting point. I thought, “yeah, now what?” 

What’s happens when YOU reach YOUR goal?

 A few years later I had a goal to swim a sub 1:00 100 yard freestyle. After about a year of swimming and training and a few masters swim meets, I finally swam a 58.7!

It was a fist pump moment. 

One of my fellow swimmers then told me, “once you break a minute, you’ll always break it.” I got scared because I didn’t believe it. I knew how hard I worked to hit that goal of sub 1:00 and the pain of doing it again didn’t appeal to me. 

What was next? Swim sub: 57 seconds? I didn’t really want that. 

In both of these instances, after the goal was reached, I didn’t have a target or goal, I slowly dropped off. It was a slow fade and it didn’t happen overnight. Rome was not built in a day, but it wasn’t destroyed in a day either. 

What’s happens when YOU reach YOUR goal? 

I’m not unique.

When the best players have reached #1 ranking in the world in golf or tennis, there is a bit of a drop off for most. Not all, but most have that feeling of  “I reached it” only to be let down because it is replaced with a “now what?”  Their goal now becomes a target and with it comes expectations and pressure. 

Chuck Noll won 4 SuperBowls with the Iconic Pittsburgh Steelers and he would talk about how he would go through a month of DEPRESSION after WINNING the Lombardi trophy. 

Bill Walsh said he felt like an outsider after winning his 3rd Super Bowl, just moments after winning.

Gold medalists have flown back after winning a Gold Medal and at some point, their thoughts come to “now what?” 

How long does the feeling of winning actually last for you? 

The interesting thing about high-achievers is that the quest to reach the goal has to be so myopic, that afterward, there is a let-down. Now winning beats losing, but there is still a let-down because no matter what, it’s over.  I spoke about this let-down at the NFL combine. 

after you reach your goal

What should you do BEFORE you reach your goal? 

What is more important than what to do after a goal is hit is what takes place before.

My downfall was that I’m a shiny object guy. I like and (am good at ) a lot of different sports, but I wasn’t IN LOVE with running or swimming. Check that, I did love it, and I liked working toward the goal, but after reaching it, I wanted to focus on different activities and things.  I didn’t want to do the things it took before, like sprint work, and test sets, etc. My motivation had changed…

Simply put, before you embark, you have to LOVE the grind and you have to LOVE your chosen passion. 

If the passion is not there, then after a goal is reached, there will be a drop-off. And that’s okay. Being able to reinvent yourself is cool, but it does mean that a sacrifice must be made, we can’t have it all at once. 

What should you do AFTER you reach your goal? 


The celebration feels much better after hitting your goal, so be able to reflect, enjoy it, and celebrate the process. Celebrate with loved one or teammates! Don’t waste this opportunity. This happens by design, not by default, you must schedule it. But, if you can’t celebrate it, then…

Take a Break-

Having scheduled breaks are a good thing. It’s better than having un-scheduled breaks due to burn-out or pain. Being able to take a scheduled break allows us to recharge and refocus. It’s far better to take a little longer break than it is to take too short a break. 

Consistent > Crazy-

It is much easier to stay in shape than it is to get back in shape. This is true in fitness as well as life. If you allow complacency to set in, then all of the progress eventually drops off.  However, we DO NOT need to remain crazy about our preparation, but we do need to remain consistent! We need to focus on keeping our habits strong.

What were our behaviors that led to success and how can we maintain these small cornerstone habits? 

One of my favorite podcast guests was Jerrod Moon. Our discussion was all about how our life would change if we could do just one thing every single day for a month? What if we could do one thing every day for an entire year? What would our life be if we could do it for 10 years? It is all about being consistent! 

Process > Product- 

When you reach success and achievements, it is natural for the goal-posts to move.

We set a new goal. A bigger goal. And that’s cool!

What matters more than reaching our goal however is the process about who we become while striving for our goal. If we can’t recognize our own face or who we are after reaching your goal, then did we make the goal all about us?

If we don’t focus on others and helping them reach their own goals along the journey, then we will remain self-seeking, and only personal success can pacify that ( for a while). But, it is not long-lasting and something else will take its place. But, if we can help others get to where they want to go, then not only will we get what we want, but we will also get greater satisfaction in their success as well. 

As I have to remind myself, NO ONE Gets There ALONE. 

dr rob bell

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & Associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books.   

Please check out the podcast 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.