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  • Writer's pictureNeil Dolan

Are You Setting the Right Goals to Support Your Wellbeing?

I’m going to talk about the importance of avoiding disappointment when you reach your goals successfully.

This is an aspect of goal setting that’s so often overlooked, and it’s really important when it comes to maximising life satisfaction and happiness.

Years ago, I was watching a documentary about the creator of the fictional spy James Bond.

After a lifetime of only so, so success as a writer, Ian Fleming started writing his James Bond books.

And eventually as we all know, they became huge best sellers.

One of Fleming friends asked him what success was like…. and apparently, he replied

"There’s so much dust …dear boy!"

Now this really struck me as interesting, now it may have just been Flemings British, but it might also have been how Fleming really felt, with the reality of achieving the kind of success he had attained.

Maybe this hot shot spy words smith really did feel disappointed in some sense

He certainly drank, gambled, and womanised his way to an early death in 1964, just before the Bond movies were taking off.

But it’s not just him!

Countless people have been shocked when finding that what they set out to achieve left them feeling strangely empty.

It’s as if the had pursued their ambitions on the unquestioned assumption that once those ambitions had been realised everything in their life would become wonderful for all time.

So, they became millionaires or won their gold medal or published their novel.

And yet, it felt fantastic for while.

But being rich or recognised by strangers in the street or respected by society was some how not all it was cracked up to be.

The guarantee of lifetime happiness that they had subconsciously taken for granted would automatically accompany their success …. just didn’t materialise!

Every day in the gossip columns and the buzz of social media, we see the fall out from the unhappiness of multitudes of millionaire malcontents, all of whom at one time had expected all... or at least most of their problems to vanish once their dreams had come true.

I’ve often heard people say they were happy on their way up to success, then when they actually arrived.


To be disappointed you have to have expectations!

That sounds obvious, but the first thing you can do is examine your expectations.

What do you imagine, and therefore expect that life will actually be like once you have the kind of life you want?

Really think about!

If you plan to make money, or get to the top of you game in a creative, sporting, business sphere, what had you been imagining life would be like once these goals had been realised?

Had you been assuming that you’d have no further problems in life?

That you never feel bored again

That you’d never feel anxious about anything again

Or lonely

That you’d never have health problems

It comes as a real body blow shock, to some people, that even when they have achieved their dreams their still troubled by some aspect of it!

The fact is we all have a variety of physical and emotional needs that can only be properly meet from different parts of life.

For example, beyond the obvious need for food, water, and shelter,

You and I, and everyone in the world have deep seated needs.

  • For attention, both to give and receive it

  • For a feel of safety and security in our lives

  • For a sense of control

  • For intimacy, with at least one other human being

  • For fun and creativity, to make life enjoyable

  • For challenge and development, so we can avoid boredom

  • For a connection, to a wider community

  • For some privacy, and the time to think our own thoughts

  • For a sense of status, with a recognisable and appreciated role in life

  • For a sense of competence and achievement, to keep our self-esteem healthy

And we need to feel that life is truly meaningful, so that we have a real purpose to our days!

Most of us are not consciously aware of these needs.


This gives you a huge advantage, and all thought we might not be consciously aware of them all the time.

These needs are so deep within us, that we will still strive to meet them.

Sometimes I healthy ways, and sometimes in not so healthy ways.

Such as excessive attention seeking to meet the need for intimacy

or being snappy with loved ones trying to meet the need for control.

The important thing, the really important thing I want you to understand, is that even when you have achieved whatever successes you’re pursuing, you will still have to work at getting these needs meet.

You might have a huge house in the country with a swimming pool and a fancy car, but unless you feel that your life has meaning, that you are being creatively challenged, that you are connected to the community and so on… then you will struggle to feel happy and may feel a bewildered disappointment with your successes.

And I coach people to meet their needs in lots of different ways.

This means they can avoid putting all their eggs in one basket.

So, for example, me earning a million dollars might meet my need to feel successful and enable me to travel and have nice things in life, but I still need to nurture intimacy with my loved ones, and find creative challenges to avoid boredom, which by the way can be a common side effect of success and keep up a good social life and so on.

And money alone will not meet those needs, no matter how much I have of it!

I might have to meet these needs completely outside the field of my success.

And in fact, it’s better if I do so!

So, the simple take away from this insight is 2 fold:

1. Just really think about what you’re expecting from your future planned success

How are you imagining life will be once your dreams have been fulfilled?

2. As well as making plans for your success, remember that your future life will need to fulfil all kinds of needs for you!

That need to be meet regardless of the lifestyle your success brings you.

You’ll also need to make sure that your future success lifestyle doesn’t actually block the satisfaction of your needs.

And in fact, celebrities have often reported when they find themselves disconnected from their community.

Keep what I’ve said here in mind, and you’ll not only avoid future disappointment, but you’ll also maximise your enjoyment of future success.

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