post-achievement depression

Got Post-Achievement Depression? Here’s How to Overcome it

25 September 2018 | by Gina Lucia

If you’re here, chances are you’ve just achieved something pretty major. You might have finished a big project, done a stellar presentation, or simply stepped out of your comfort zone. The result of this big achievement though has been a sudden hit of what can only be described as ‘meh’.

Or to put it in a more technical term, post-achievement depression.

What is post-achievement depression?

Say you’ve been working towards a big goal for a while now, it could’ve been years or just a few weeks. All your motivation and energy up until this point has been spent propelling you towards this goal. 

Then the day finally arrives and all that built-up energy reaches a crescendo. You’ve done it! Your adrenalin is pumping, praise is flowing your way and probably, attention follows.

But what happens when all of that energy and excitement suddenly stops? Effectively you have a post-achievement crash.

This crash doesn’t always affect people the same way, but for some, it results in post-achievement depression and any of the following:

  • A lack of motivation
  • The inability to start new projects or move onto the next ‘big thing’
  • Sudden tiredness and need for sleep/rest
  • Deep sadness that you feel you have no explanation for

How to overcome post-achievement depression

Recognising what’s going on is the first step and you’ve done it by opening this article.

Next is to take a closer look at how you’re feeling. 

At this point, you already feel pretty shoddy, but knowing the reason why will help you overcome your post-achievement depression quicker. 

Answer the following questions, are you feeling down because…

  1. You don’t know what to do next?
  2. You feel as though your ‘big thing’ didn’t get the attention it deserved?
  3. You’re genuinely tired from all the work you put in and need a rest?
  4. You’ve realised that although you achieved your ‘big thing’, you don’t want to be doing it anymore?

The answers to these questions will give you a deeper insight into how you’re feeling. For each of the above questions, here are some thoughts:

You don’t know what to do next

When it comes to having post-achievement depression, most of the time that feeling appears because there’s nothing that comes after. You’ve achieved your thing and that’s it, done.

My advice in this situation is to plan for the next thing before you finish the first one. Use that motivation you already have in the middle of the first project to plan the next one.

If you’re past that point, moving onto the next thing is going to be difficult, but oh so worth it. Gathering momentum when you have none is one of the hardest things us humans have to do. But it’s also one of the most rewarding.

Start small. What one small thing can you do today to push yourself in the direction of your next thing? Just think of one thing and do it now. The trick to gathering your momentum back again is to take baby steps – so go for it!

You feel as though your ‘big thing’ didn’t get the attention it deserved

I hate to break it to you, but things usually don’t go perfectly to plan and we simply can’t control other people’s reaction to things.

What we can control though, is how we react.

Use this setback as motivation either improve or prove others wrong. There’s nothing in life more motivating than a setback, so don’t wallow in it. Use it as fuel to propel yourself forward and keep going.

You’re genuinely tired from all the work you put in and need a rest

If your post-achievement depression has come because you’ve simply been working too hard, then it’s time to give yourself a break. Burnout can come in many forms and this is one of them.

The likelihood is, if you have post-achievement depression, then you’re going to be tired anyway. So take a look at the work you did leading up to this point. Did you overwork? Are you physically and mentally drained?

Only you know your limits, so if this is a result of overworking, for the sake of your own mental and physical health, take some time off to recharge.

You’ve realised that although you achieved your ‘big thing’, you don’t want to be doing it anymore

This one’s a doozy. Just because you’ve been working hard on something and achieved something pretty big, doesn’t mean you need to keep doing it.

If you’ve found through this process you’ve lost the fire you once had, or you’ve found out it’s not worth your energy, or you always knew it wasn’t what you wanted to do, now’s the time to think about calling it quits.

I say think about because you shouldn’t be making decisions in haste. Your post-achievement depression might have drained you to the point where doing anything at all seems like a drag. 

So give yourself some serious time to think about where you want to be going and what you’ve achieved. If you still come to the same conclusion a few weeks from now, then you know your thoughts and feelings are valid and you can take action.

Have you ever had post-achievement depression? What caused it and how did you cope? Leave a comment below and share your tips with our readers.

Featured image by Priscilla Du Preez