Written by Claire Huder
FB: Claire Huder
What is accomplishment?
It is defined as “something that is successful, or that is achieved after a lot of work or effort; the finishing of something.” (2) Accomplishment can also be described as achievement, defined in the APA Dictionary of Psychology as “the attainment of some goal, or the goal attained.” (3) We feel accomplished when we set out to do something and put forth enough effort that we see it through to completion.
The importance for us as human beings to feel a sense of accomplishment is highlighted by 1998 American Psychological Association President Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman’s five building blocks of well-being and happiness in order for human beings to flourish. These five elements are outlined under the acronym PERMA:
Positive Emotion – Increasing positive emotion about the past—by cultivating gratitude and forgiveness—the present—by savoring physical pleasures and mindfulness—and the future—by building hope and optimism. It should be noted that this element is contingent upon the limits of each individual to experience positive emotions, emphasizing how essential each and every one of these building blocks is.
Engagement – “An experience in which someone fully deploys their skills, strengths, and attention for a challenging task.” This activity is ultimately its own reward, known as an experience called “flow”, experienced when one’s skills are just sufficient for a challenging activity, in the pursuit of a clear goal, with immediate feedback on progress toward the goal. In such an activity, concentration is fully absorbed in the moment, self-awareness disappears, and the perception of time is distorted in retrospect, e.g., time stops.” This can be achieved by fixing or building something, completing a task at work, playing a musical instrument or performing in a sport, reading a book, writing, or any other such tasks.
Relationships – Support from and connection with others, which can give our lives purpose and meaning. This is fundamental to our well-being, as “the experiences that contribute to well-being are often amplified through our relationships, for example, great joy, meaning, laughter, a feeling of belonging, and pride in accomplishment.” This connection can be one of the most reliable ways for us to feel happiness and positivity. After all, we are social beings.
Meaning – “Belonging to and serving something bigger than the self.” This can fall under religion, family, politics, community, social causes and justice, and organizations, among others.
Accomplishment – “Achievement, competence, success, and mastery for its own sake, in a variety of domains, including the workplace, sports, games, hobbies, etc.…even when it does not necessarily lead to positive emotion, meaning, or relationships.” (1)
Frequently, when we accomplish something, it instills in us a feeling of pride, but that isn’t always the case.
We must also acknowledge our accomplishments.
By acknowledging our own accomplishments and thus fully satisfying our need to feel accomplished, we are in turn lifting our self-esteem and therefore our positive outlook on life. For instance, when I accomplish something productive such as clean my house (especially when it is overrun with cat and dog hair), I feel proud of myself. I put effort into something that had a fruitful outcome.
That same feeling of accomplishment also arises when I cook, whether it is something I have made frequently or something new. Instead of putting minimal effort into ordering delivery or take-out from a restaurant, I took the time to prepare my own meal—or simple snack sometimes—and was able to provide for myself or sometimes additionally for someone whom I care about. It increases my feeling of self-worth knowing that I have the skill and willingness to do so.
In effect, this increases my ability to flourish instead of simply exist.
To thrive, not just survive.