The Missing Ingredient of Achievement
Today, a lot of people are focused on achieving great things in their careers and businesses, yet all too often we set ambitious goals thinking they will fulfill us to find that upon reaching the final destination there’s something missing – in that, the achievement we experience is not enough to satiate our emotional need for something missing in our life.
As an ambitious person you might fall into the group known as “overachievers”. This group of people tend to be very intelligent, focused and highly effective in terms of their career and business, perhaps even their personal life too, but the goals they set and expectations they place upon themselves don’t always come from the healthiest of places.
The Missing Ingredient
Indeed, many people feel the “need” to achieve as a way to feel “good enough”. This is often deep routed in their upbringing and is the type of thing a counselor would spot from a mile off, yet the average person might not be able to connect the dots with – meaning, overachievers live this way for a very long time; often achieving amazing things on their journey but never feeling truly fulfilled or proud of themselves due to an overriding sense of low self esteem.
In this sense, the missing ingredient of achievement is often a feeling of personal pride and self-esteem. Of course, many people upon completing a task feel an instant hit of serotonin and dopamine from the intense emotions connected with reaching the summit and achieving their goal, but this tends to be short lived, and soon the overachiever will be looking for their next conquest in order to feel more worthy and successful.
The Achievement Chase
This can create a subtle addiction to achievement, meaning, people are rarely happy to stay still and appreciate where they are; they’re always looking for the next big thing to achieve – jumping from summit to summit – constantly in a state of climbing, with little appreciation of where they are and what they’ve become.
In a nutshell, chasing achievement can feel a somewhat insatiable quest – where similar to a drug addict that requires bigger and bigger hits to feel the same effect of the drug they are taking, an overachiever requires more and more success to feel good about themselves.
Now, there’s nothing bad about being an “overachiever”, indeed it can be a fantastic attribute that fuels your success in life – but it’s worth taking a few moments to question where the insatiable hunger for success, validation, achievement and significance comes from. The reason this is important is that we live in such a success focused world that we feel we “need” to be successful in our career or business in order to be happy.
Of course, there’s some truth in this, but have you ever noticed that everyone’s definition of success varies; for some people, being the best mother they can be to their child – on the metric of love, acceptance and engagement is success to them; we all have a blueprint for what success looks like, and the idea of having to achieve huge things to be successful is a myth of the modern age.
At the core of over-achievement is that sometimes people feel the need to “achieve” in order to feel worthy of receiving love, recognition and respect from other people.
Today, society is riddled with this feeling of “not being good enough” as we are – as this is what encourages people to go out and get plastic surgery or spend thousands on beauty creams… it’s a great marketing tool, yet when it comes to your personal happiness, living in a world where we are encouraged to feel “not enough” is creating an epidemic of people with low self esteem.
Whilst this insecurity can be a good thing, in that it pushes us, as a human race to evolve and create. Indeed, without a sense of insecurity we would rest on our laurels and nothing would get done; for we wouldn’t push ourselves if we didn’t have a nagging sense of needing to do more, have more, be more and experience more in life… yet, it can also leave us feeling exhausted.
There needs to be a good balance.
If you’ve ever come across an arrogant or conceited person, they might seem confident on the outside but in reality they tend to be very wobbly on the inside – to the point they often build walls around them and wear masks of achievement to fortify their inner vulnerability; indeed arrogance often comes from a place of not feeling good enough on the inside, and is a form of overcompensation for the lack of internal confidence they feel.
If you notice, truly successful people are often quite humble when talking about their achievement; okay, they might have some fancy toys and great clothes, but when you get down to the depth of that person (for instance in a TV interview) the majority of truly successful people are quite humble and modest.
The reason for this is that they have found the missing ingredient that so many people chasing achievement lack; that of self-love.
Louise Hay, an expert on this area of states:
“When I talk about loving ourselves, I mean having a deep appreciation for who we are. We accept all the different parts of ourselves—our little peculiarities, the embarrassments, the things we may not do so well, and all the wonderful qualities, too.”
The point being that when we love ourselves, as we are, rather than for what we have, or for what have achieved… we free ourselves of the “need to achieve” meaning we achieve things from a much healthier place than those with a compulsive craving for success.
In this sense, our feeling of self-worth and self-confidence wants to come from a place of self-acceptance rather than being contingent on a crutch such as a fancy car, successful business, or big home. All these things can be taken away from you, which is why so many people facing bankruptcy, for instance, contemplating ending it all… because they associate their self-worth with their sense of achievement; but true self-worth comes from loving and accepting yourself exactly as you are.