Arrival Fallacy: Causes & How To Overcome

Last Update on November 7, 2022 : Published on November 7, 2022

Have you ever waited to reach your goal and imagined all about how happy you’re going to be when you finally experience success? Upon being there, were you confused about why you haven’t been feeling as happy as you thought you’d be?

If yes, you have experienced the arrival fallacy. To me, it usually happens after exams. As a child, I would always look forward to the day my exams would get over. I always assumed that it’d be the happiest day of my life but on that day I’d usually wonder why am I not as happy as I thought I’d be. I’d end up feeling disappointed and bored because I didn’t know what was next.

Have you ever experienced something like this? The arrival fallacy doesn’t become a problem until that disappointment and lack of aim turns toxic and throws you down a dark hole. If you don’t come out of the arrival fallacy, it’s going to take a toll on your mental health.

Let’s explore the causes of the arrival fallacy and how you can overcome it…

Arrival Fallacy: Meaning


The arrival fallacy refers to the assumption we all have that upon reaching our goal we will experience extreme joy and happiness. This is not always true and when that doesn’t happen, people feel extremely disappointed and tend to develop depression, anxiety, etc.

Arrival Fallacy can affect your mental health because firstly, your feelings did not match the expectations you had for them. Secondly, you feel confused about not feeling overjoyed after reaching your goals. Finally, you feel directionless because you’ve achieved what you worked hard for and are clueless about what’s next!

You’ve had a purpose for so long and now that you’ve achieved your goals you feel purposeless. We’ve always been told to work hard for a good job, to buy a house or get married, etc. many of us work hard to achieve these goals but upon reaching there, we still don’t feel happy.

Arrival Fallacy: Causes

What exactly causes the arrival fallacy is yet a mystery. But if you closely think about why someone might experience the arrival fallacy, you’ll notice flaws in our idea of happiness. What according to you makes you feel happy?

To me, happiness lies in the tiny things that we do for ourselves and our loved ones. However, the idea of happiness has only recently evolved for me. Unfortunately, we live in a society where it is understood that happiness comes to you when you achieve all your required goals in life.

For example, getting a good job, finding stability in life, making a family, buying a house, climbing the ladder of success, etc. We’ve been conditioned to attach our happiness to our goal. This is not correct, happiness comes through small things throughout your life. It’s not dependent on your goals and their success rate.

Do you see the problem now? We are expecting happiness from something that does not guarantee it. Perhaps that’s why we feel disappointed and heartbroken when we don’t receive that expected happiness upon reaching our goal.


Arrival Fallacy: How To Deal With It?

If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you somewhat know why you might have fallen victim to the arrival fallacy. It’s important to know that it’s our idea and expectations of happiness that are responsible for the disappointment you face upon achieving your goals.

If the arrival fallacy is managing your mental health and you wish to overcome the arrival fallacy, you don’t need to focus on three things;

  1. Focus on the journey and not the destination: you must realize that it’s the journey that counts more than the destination. If you spend your journey just stressing over how and when you’ll reach your destination, you’ll miss out on the beautiful view and the amazing company.
  2. Learn to be in the present: focus on the present and don’t obsess over what’s in the future. Celebrate small wins rather than waiting for the big ones. When you’re always thinking about what is yet to happen, you’ll miss out on all the things you can be happy about now.
  3. Note down things that bring joy to you: it’s happiness that we all seek but the idea of happiness can mislead us. To be aware of what makes you happy, make a list of things that make you happy. Whenever you feel happy, write down exactly what led to your happiness.

That’s All Folks!

I hope this blog about arrival fallacy and how to deal with arrival fallacy helps you understand what you need to focus on. If you keep letting the arrival fallacy overpower you, you’re more likely to develop mental health conditions.

If you think you might have fallen victim to the arrival fallacy and it has started to affect your health and the people around you, consider therapy. A mental health professional can help and guide you toward the correct path.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and stay safe.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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