There is no destination.
There is no point where you’re going to ‘get there’, no magic place where everything is where you want it to be and you’ve arrived in some paradise of bliss and happiness.
Yet we live life as though there is. If you’re like I was when I was doing my PhD, you can go through your PhD journey always dreaming of some time where you’ll have no stress or worries. You’ll start to make that place contingent upon reaching particular milestones, such that you’ll believe that if only you do X, Y and Z, you’ll end up happy. This leads to thoughts like ‘I’ll be happy when I’m finished’, or ‘I’ll be happy when this chapter is out the way’.
Whilst this can be a good motivator, it can also be dangerous, largely because it’s a fallacy. Making your happiness contingent upon reaching certain objectives is futile, because when you achieve them you find new ones to replace them. The result? The contentment you seek is always tantalisingly out of reach.
If you think like this, you’ll rarely be happy, because there will always be some new contingency.
The antidote? To realise how far you’ve already come. Where you are today is where you wanted to end up some time in the past. Ever think to yourself ‘I’ll be happy when I get accepted on my PhD programme”?. Well, take some time to realise you reached that goal and allow yourself to be happy right now.
The truth is, there is no ‘destination’. There is no magic point where a bell goes off and you’re suddenly completely content or in control of things. Life is always a bit chaotic, and there are always unfinished tasks. Don’t spend so long looking into the future that you fail to see where you are today.
Good luck and have a great week.
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