Achievement brings its own anticlimax. – Maya Angelou.

We know that when we achieve things we should pause and take a moment to reflect upon and celebrate our achievements. It’s a great idea and we know that doing so is a neat idea.

However, the reality is that it even when we do achieve great things, is all too easy for us to spend so much time and energy focusing on what we have not achieved rather than what we have achieved! This can be very destructive both to ourselves as a whole and to our confidence in particular as we keep focusing attention on what we didn’t do whilst not recognising the often very significant things we DID do. And this can happen to the best of us.

For example, friend of mine is a very good athlete (OK, they are retired from sport now, but I dare say they could give most of us a very good run for our money even now!) and they represented their country in the Olympics. And not just any Olympics, but the ones held in their home country! Something the vast majority of us could only ever dream of doing. For decades my friend had the goal of representing their country at the Olympics, and here they were fulfilling a lifetime’s ambition, on home ground at that!

I’m sure that if any of us found ourselves in that position after many many years of dedication, hard work, training, practise and all the other supreme effort which goes into creating an Olympian, we would be rightly proud and celebratory of such a magnificent achievement, right?

Unfortunately this was not the case for my friend. You see, for many years afterwards rather than reflecting upon the fact that they were the best in their country and represented their country by competing with the best of the best of the best in the world, they kept focusing on the fact that they didn’t win a medal at the Olympics. So my friend representing their country Olympics kept focusing on the fact that they haven’t got a medal. Indeed they focused so much of the fact that they haven’t achieved a medal that they didn’t recognise the massive achievement that they had made; they would actually say “Yeah, but I’m not a medal winner, I’m only an Olympian.”.

Only an Olympian?
Only an Olympian?!

You see, there is the danger of always focusing so intently upon what we didn’t achieve, without taking the time to appreciate what we have achieved. Fortunately my friend learned this lesson for themselves quite a while back, and is all the better for it. But I wonder how many times you find yourself doing the same – focusing so much on what you have not achieved that you forget about what you have achieved?

The problem with achievement, if we are not careful, is that we don’t view it as the achievement that it is, but as a failure for not being an even bigger achievement.  Our achievement is in danger of becoming an anticlimax, dampening our spirits instead of lifting them, because we view it in a poor light.

See also  Celebrate the past, don't mourn it.

Next time you complete something, whether you initially view it as a success or not, pause for a moment and ask yourself what aspects were successful, which parts of it are good achievements, and whether it might be worth taking a moment to reflect upon the positive achievements, celebrating what you have achieved rather than what you haven’t.
Go on, do your little victory dance!
There’s plenty of time to work out how you might do things even better next time and achieve that higher result, but for now celebrate what you HAVE achieved.

For when you get into that habit, you start to reduce the stresses of everyday life which build up, you start to feel better about yourself, you realise you are successful, and your confidence receives a well deserved boost.
And in some cases that is all the lift you need to spur you on to greater success!