We are taught from a very early age that achievements are important, for some they can become so crucial they become tied in with their sense of self worth. This is reasonable and can be healthy, however there is also a dark side to success. Jennifer Gresham, author of Everday Bright, shares some incredible insight on the negative effects of societies addiction to achievements:

In some ways it seems incredible—in my 22 years of schooling, no one ever explained what success was or how to know if you were one. I’ve taken numerous classes in management, philosophy, English, and history—not one provided more than a superficial examination of the subject.

If there was any indicator of what constituted success, the definition seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once: your GPA, then the prestige of the university you got admitted to, then salary, promotions, and even the zip code or square footage of where you resided.

By the time my vacation destinations had become a source of bragging rights, I knew I was in trouble. I was addicted to my achievements and the emotional boost that came with them. We know to be wary of things like drugs, alcohol, and junk food. But setting goals and achieving them is not only supposed to be healthy, it’s a way of life for many of us. A way of life that has the potential to harm unless you’re careful.

This isn’t an anti-achievement manifesto. Healthy achievement can be rewarding and fulfilling. But when our self-worth becomes dependent on ever more impressive achievements, judged not even by our own standards but by how much we crush our competition (and everyone, by the way, can be seen as the competition), the result is shockingly destructive—and one that few are willing to discuss openly.

Addicted to achievement, we forget there is a huge difference between success at a task or goal and success as a person.

To bring this point home, I made this short video to explore achievement addiction and what to do about it.

A scientist by training and optimist at heart, Jennifer Gresham helps overachievers wake up to a life they love. She is the author of the popular career blog Everyday Bright and the founder of the No Regrets Career Academy. You can also find her on Facebook.
Featured photo credit: iwillbehomesoon via photopin cc

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