Core Values Redux: Achievement

This post is part of an ongoing challenge to go through James Clear’s list of Core Values and take a week to reflect on each one.


I feel like this has been high on the Core Values for me most of my life. As a kid, I was good at certain things and was praised for that, both at school and at home. As such, I’ve strived for that praise most of my life. And that pride tends to come from Achievement. Combined with my innate personality (I think), looking back I am always most proud of the things that I have achieved, rather than feelings and experiences I had.

Somedays, however, I feel like the flip side of achievement. I’ll struggle mightily to do the things that so many people are able to do effortlessly: speaking, reading, and writing French, navigating the world of visas, etc. While these aren’t the easiest things ever, they do not require an extreme intellect for the people around me. And in struggling with them, I feel as if I have failed at my ‘achievements’.

But perhaps achievement is more in getting back up when one is down than in always being up top. It is not hitting a home run every time you are up to bat, but always going back to the plate whenever you are in a slump. Or, in a more financial metaphor, it is capping your losses: mentally being able to wash away the lows and start again instead of letting them accumulate in a depressive spiral.

Sometimes achievements are monumental: a first in the history of humanity or something that will change the course of the species forever. Other times they are relatively smaller. But if, for instance, a baby has been seemingly crying non-stop for days and days, the silence of infantile dreams can not be eclipsed by even the most epic deed.

Foremost, achievement means producing some result. That can be winning in a competition, or that can mean achieving ‘completion’, whatever the definition. If you putz around making a bunch of notes for something like a blog post on Achievement, but you never hit the publish button, then you just have a bunch of notes that no one will see. Sometimes, taking time to research, edit, tweak, and perfect is important. But to achieve, you still need to hit publish.

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