Completing a professional goal can bring relief, joy and a sense of accomplishment, and it can also be disorienting. As training professionals, learning is in our nature. In order to train others, we must first learn ourselves. This can mean that we are constantly striving for another degree, certificate, endorsement, promotion, opportunity to lead a big project, etc. When we finish a major goal, though, it can be challenging to know where to go and what to do next.

According to a Harvard Business Review article by psychologist Ron Friedman, staying motivated after the completion of a goal is frequently hard work. Feelings of disappointment, depression and burnout can often follow an achievement. As training professionals, we need to put practices in place to help us stay focused and motivated. Practices for continued forward momentum include:

  • Rest: It can be hard, especially for those of us who are achievers by nature, but we all need times of relaxation.
  • Refocus: Focus on matters to you, specifically your “why.”
  • Discover: Find new projects that align with your “why.”
  • Explore: Take time to learn about new developments in your field. You may have missed advancements and trends while you were busy.
  • Develop: After taking time to explore new developments in the field, it is important to craft a plan for continuing to stay up to date (e.g., read blogs, attend training, listen to podcasts or grow your professional learning network).
  • Stretch: Try something new. Keep your work interesting and stimulating, and add variety. Monotony can quickly lead to dissatisfaction.
  • Plan: Goals do not accomplish themselves. Keep planning for professional growth.

These practices highlight what to do after a goal is completed. However, to the greatest extent possible, it is best to plan for life after completion of the objective before you achieve it. As Friedman wrote, “Find your next mastery goal.” In other words, we all need to be excited about what comes next, and that means we need to know what will follow.

When you accomplish a goal, one of the reasons it is disorienting is because there is no longer a project or specific tasks to accomplish. While the natural ebbs and flows of life often mean certain seasons will be busier than others, keeping steady momentum is necessary for continued growth. When we are in a state of momentum, we are already accomplishing big things – it is more than just checking off a to-do list. According to Glenn Llopis, author of “The Innovation Mentality,” “you cannot build and sustain momentum … without being able to see the next opportunities of greatest potential, sow them, grow them, share them and then resow them into new opportunities.” Building sustained momentum means maximizing on opportunities and planning far enough ahead to be proactive and not reactionary.