If you could wake up tomorrow morning with a brand-new skill, what would it be? For example, let’s say you could choose to master anything you wished – the violin, speaking Dutch, playing tennis? Which skill would it be?
Having woken up with this new skill in your head, what a revelation it would be. You’d think: “Ah, I can do this perfectly. What joy, what joy.” But after the initial excitement, you may enter a phase of, “What next?” Having mastered this skill, there isn’t a next step because practice won’t make you any better. You’ve reached the pinnacle of the skill, and your journey, in a sense, has ended.
Humans seem to be quite fond of progression. Incremental gains make us happy. Improvement gives us a chemical rush. We love to get better, to work hard, to improve, to overcome challenges. It explains a lot about us; why we renovate our homes, work long hours for a promotion, study advanced degrees, and so forth.
But it’s easy to forget that it’s the small rewards from improvement that matter the most. We can get so fixated on the end prize that we forget that happiness is what happens along the way. It’s common to find couples selling their home not long after completing a major renovation. Having put the final touches on the place, they turn to each other and think, “What next?”