What Happens After “Happily Ever After”?

April 24, 2013  |  

I’ve been a Simpson’s fan for years, and one night after my daughter had gone to sleep and I could watch all the greatness that was the fourth season, it made me begin to think about some things in my life.  On the episode “Lisa’s First Word,” Marge was groggily telling a toddler Bart a fairy tale.  She ended it with “…and they both lived happily ever after.”  Bart immediately asked:  “And then what?”  I was folding my laundry when I stopped and realized:  “Yeah, and then what?!”

Have you ever been so fixated on accomplishing a goal, and was thinking:  “Okay, if only I can just get this [insert goal here], then things will be great.”?  I’ve felt like that more times than I would like to admit.  For years I lived my life as:  Man, life is going to be great when I graduate college/have this baby/get out of this marriage.”  But the thing that I realized that I lacked was thinking about “and then what?”

I grew up as an over planner, having my days timed to the second of what I was going to do, and having my life mapped out.  However, life happened, and I found that I was living for the “Happily Ever After” life.  So, when I got what I wanted/worked for, since I didn’t give any thought to what to do with it, I was sort of lost.  Yes, I achieved some goals that I had set for myself since I was a child, but what now?  What do you do with those accomplishments?

One thing that I wished I would have realized, or someone would have told me, was that you can’t just rest on your laurels.  You are amazing, that should go without saying, but you can’t just sit back and have someone constantly congratulate you.  Once you received that first distinction, do something with it.  Use it as collateral to move into the field that you want.  Sitting back and patting yourself on the back is not doing you any type of justice, or your future.

Have a contingency plan that connects with what you have succeeded in.  Since I was a little girl I always wanted to be a writer, that’s been the only consistent thing in my life.  However, accepting compliments and awards for writing wasn’t doing anything.  I was given an opportunity to try out book editing, and did it successfully for a few years and for a few big named publishing companies.  With that, if/when I pen the great American novel, the background that I have with editing, and the connections that I have with different publishing companies could help me to achieve that goal, while also providing me with a foundation of how to continue having a prosperous life.

Don’t just thinking about about “Happily Ever After,” think about “Happily Never After.”  Happiness and success is a luxury that will only come with experiencing failure and confusion.  Sometimes when people fixate so much on a goal, but don’t anticipate the roadblocks that come with it, when those roadblocks hit, people stop pursuing.  Well, you are going to hit those roadblocks.  Success is rarely linear, and there are times that you’re going to have to face a failure and figure out a different way to proceed.  I’m not saying that you need to fixate on the negative, just acknowledge that it’s a possibility, and when it happens, that’s when your contingency plan can come into play.

Your life can be a fairy tale.  But remember, when you go to ride off into the sunset, you kind of have to know where you’re going, otherwise, you will get lost.

What’s your favorite fairy tale?  Share it with Kendra Koger @kkoger. 

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