My Reliance On The Arrival Fallacy

For those that are not aware, the arrival fallacy is a psychological idea that once you get to a certain place, things will change. There’s a tendency for this to be applied to happiness and usually with purchasing things, but it can be applicable to all sorts of areas. It doesn’t have to be a specific place, it can be a certain level of money you have, and particular time or just a change in situation.

The overriding realisation is that when you do arrive at this place, nothing changes. When you achieve this mythical place, you realise that all the feelings you have angled towards it have been misplaced. No thing, feeling, or situation is going to change your outlook on life nor your position in the world.

Despite knowing about this fallacy for years, I still have a tendency to trick myself into believing it. My subconscious hides away my true motivations and I can become fixated on certain things to change, often non-related things. An easy to explain example is photography and gear acquisition syndrome (GAS). This is a very common thing for photographers, particularly those early in their experience.

GAS tricks you into thinking you need to buy an expensive camera, or high-priced lenses because then you will be able to take great photos. “Just like the people that use it do” you whisper to yourself clicking the buy button, when in fact you should just be out shooting and learning. I had this bad until I stripped everything back and changed my outlook.

I do this with all sorts of things. Notebooks weirdly are my current obsession, and they are all the same right, but that doesn’t stop my brain from fooling me. Convincing me that I need to order this one and that one. What exactly am I going to do then? Write more notes? There’s no arrival, there’s no trick to getting to the places you want to be. Like a children’s story, the magic is in you all along.


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