That phase of lull

What do you do when you have achieved your momentary goal? Don’t lose your purpose; take an accurate and real assessment of where you are, at this juncture

The season of exams, results and entrances are nearing the end of their cycle. The hard work that began a few years back is circling back to its logical end. Those months of intense hours that were about focus, purpose, hard work, sleeplessness and anxiety are now asking you ‘what next, though’?

You scored high, or perhaps did not, but you did your best. Surely, you touched the limits of your capacity. Parents are off your back, and social approval, too, has run its course, bringing to a close some of the toughest months of your life. There is a sense of relief and the high adrenaline is perhaps being replaced with an unusual wave of weariness. You may wonder, ‘is this all this was for’?

Loss of purpose

In the dimming glow of the arc lights, after all, the attention and delicate care that you were treated with, is there, now, a growing vacuum? A certain emptiness made of the unknown ahead, the uncharted yet to be chartered, the equity and acceptance that will need to be rebuilt, the journey of belonging and recognition that will have to be trudged again. ‘Was this all it was for?’ is the tug of anxiety.

This is the human dilemma — the inevitable loss of purpose after you have come through for yourself. In so many ways, it is like quashing the climber’s high, after summiting a cherished peak, with the urgency of climbing down to safer altitudes. You can reach the top, yet you cannot stay there forever. The natural order of life — ebbs and flows — does take over.

In competitive sports and high adrenaline-induced professions, there is a period called ‘the achiever’s curse’: a phase of lull once the contest is over. Olympians and astronauts, sometimes, go into depressive phases after achieving the highest goals they worked towards for years. The audience moves on after the act, but the performer cannot switch off as swiftly, and yearns in the emptiness of purpose and action.

We all behave a certain way under pressure. When the pressure has run its course in action, we experience a loss of purpose, and human beings don’t do well without purpose. It is Ironic, but true.

Rekindling purpose

Reorienting to small purposeful goals is a way out. ‘Who did I miss being when I was in the midst of chasing the big goal?’, ‘can I do what I missed doing while laboring towards the big goal?’. Rekindling purposeful living till the next big goal dispels the dissonance of a period of limbo. We need to find creative ways of transitioning to low action, high-engagement and high-fulfilment goals.

There is something else, the experience of backbreaking hard work holds many clues for braving intense pressure. You owe it to yourself to reflect on the moments that were lesson-laden. The un-replicable crossroads and the decisions taken midway; how you handled yourself and found a way out; the ways in which you fell short — the answers to these questions are loaded with lifelong learning. Reflect and heed them. This is you taking an accurate and real assessment of where you are at this moment. You are paying attention, and nourishing from your own purposeful past. While the results from the exams will determine reputation and forward choices, the interlude will build character and integrity.

The writer is a life coach, blogger and writer who simplifies the patterns and archetypes she encounters at work and in life. [email protected]

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