This post is about laurels.
Specifically, whether it’s worth resting on them or not.
Incidentally, for this post I (very) briefly checked into the etymology of the phrase “resting on your laurels.”
Something about a crown made from laurels given to victorious athletes.
Per usual, the Greeks started it and the Romans stole it from the Greeks.
Quick FYI: a long-time Grecophile, I’m presently soured on the whole lot because I recently found out Aristotle was a flaming racist (listen to episode 101 of What Sid Thinks Podcast). I desperately tried to ‘cancel’ him but turns out he died. Like, a while ago. Lucky for him.
In any case, I recently recorded the 100th episode of my new Podcast. A milestone, if you will – and one which made me realize I probably should stop referring to the show as ‘new.’ Hitting the 100th also got me thinking (again) about accomplishments, achieving goals, and what role they play in helping us live happy lives.
My conclusion? Not much of a role.
I think we put too much weight on milestones, goals, accomplishments, financial rewards, and finish lines. We think “if I can just hit XXX number on a scale, if I can just finish the race, if I can just get a better job” then I’ll be happy. In other words, we think resting on our laurels will do us good.
Thing is, there’s a good chance it won’t. To be sure, we get a good ol’ hit (read: drug high) from achieving a goal for which we’ve worked our butts off. It does feel great to accomplish something and doing so certainly adds valuable experience and creates a great memory to boot.
But, the ‘achievement hit’ is fleeting. It goes away pretty quickly, and over time we end up having to work harder and harder to milk as much joy from the accomplishment as it fades further and further into the past.
We do better when we move on. We do better when we give ourselves a pat on the back and then figure out what we’re going to work for next.
Because we are happiest when we focus more on the working toward a goal than on the goal itself.
What this means…
If we hit the goal, awesome. But time to set another one.
If we don’t hit the goal, oh well. But time to set another one.
The thing is, resting on your laurels is, well, resting.
And resting is best when it’s earned. When you know you deserve it.