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Arrival Fallacy Doesn’t Have To Have A Chokehold On You

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois chapter.

Do you ever feel like you’re always striving towards the next big thing? A new goal, a new milestone or even working towards a better grade on that next exam. What exactly is the name of that sunken feeling creeping in when you’ve accomplished the goal, but only feel joy for a split moment before becoming overwhelmed about what to do next? The term is called arrival fallacy, but what exactly is it? 

Arrival Fallacy, in definition, is used to describe the idea that long-term happiness or contentment will follow after the accomplishment of a goal or task. So, basically, it’s the illusional idea that once we “make it” and attain our goal, we will reach everlasting happiness. So, then what do we do if we don’t? We as humans have this innate desire to constantly better ourselves; whether that is getting a promotion at your job, studying harder for a musical performance, or working out more intensely at the gym. Now think about this in terms of your own life. Have you ever gotten back a paper from class and felt extremely enthused by the score, only to realize 10 minutes later that the areas of improvement were minor changes? Or how about performing phenomenally at a concert, just to watch the video footage over and be told by the instructor everyone’s tone could use slight improvement? Or what about that feeling one week after Christmas when the bliss of opening/gifting a long-awaited present wears off and now you’re left with what to do next? Regardless of the exact situation, we’ve all been here before and that is completely normal!

Knowing this concept of arrival fallacy is helpful because it can provide comfort in the reasoning as to why individuals might feel a certain void sensation after attaining a goal. However, here’s how self-care plays a role in this ideal. 

With the upcoming midterm season, many students become stressed out with the potential of all that could happen. “What if I could’ve done better than I did”, “I got a good grade, but I bet I could’ve answered #49 right if I had more time”, “I finished my reflection essay, but now what?”. These are all things we hear around such a season, but I’m here to remind you that the arrival fallacy does not have to have a chokehold on you. 

When you complete a task or successfully achieve a goal, take time to bask in the moment. Realize all the hard work, determination, and grit that went into your success. Go out and celebrate with some boba or take a day off from studying. Give back to yourself as you celebrate the wins because how else will you make the most of life? Remember to not necessarily strive toward perfectionism but towards betterment. 

And if there’s one takeaway you should always remember, it’s that a win is a win, no matter how small, because this is only a lifetime full of “to be continued.” And if no one has told you today, you’re doing great and I’m proud of you. Until next time, stay uniquely you!

Mierra Freeman

Illinois '26

Hiya! My name is Mierra Freeman, and I am currently a sophomore studying sociology, while on the Pre-Law track. Although I want to pursue Criminal law as my career path, I have always had a passion and special place in my heart for all things beauty, self care, skincare, positivity, and fashion! I hope that together we are able to embark on this wonderful journey in the world of beauty and positivity. Never forget to stay uniquely you!!💗