Are You an Achievement Junkie?
I’ve been wanting to write about achievement addiction for over a year now, but for some reason, I’ve been blocked from doing it.
Maybe because I still suffer from it?
Maybe because it challenges the norms of our society so much people will brush it off as not applicable to their lives?
But I was re-inspired recently when I was lucky enough to attend a talk with Nataly Kogan, author of Happier Now and expert at all things happiness @ work.
While Nataly didn’t specifically use the term “achievement addiction”, as she told her story… one too many of us are familiar with… it was the textbook definition of achievement addiction.
Growing up, she got a hit of happiness, a happiness high if you will, from achieving great things.
Raised her hand and had the right answer in class → praise → hit of happiness.
Oh, she realized, this feeling of being recognized for doing something others see as valuable feels good.
I want more.
Top of her high school class. Great college. Glass-ceiling-breaking corporate achievements in her 20s. Started companies while running companies. And so on...
The addiction to this feeling is not abnormal.
Early on, most of us learn that with achievement comes praise, comes happiness, creating a deeply embedded belief that you have to DO and ACHIEVE to have VALUE.
And what does that lead to for many of us?
Burn out. Exhaustion. No gas left in the tank to actually do any one thing really well.
An unconscious modus operandi that if you aren't constantly going above and beyond and achieving great results that you aren't worthy of praise, recognition, love, reward, success.
This may sound extreme, but think about it…. does achievement addiction play any role in your life?
For me personally, I was always recognized and rewarded for my good grades in school.
Which led to me doing all the things in college, and in the workforce, and an exhausting need to climb the corporate ladder faster than my peers.
And if I wasn't doing that… if I wasn’t getting promoted fast enough or ranked as a high performer, or going above and beyond, I felt like a failure. Not good enough.
What the hell does not good enough even mean?!
I can guarantee that if you are reading this post right now, you ARE GOOD ENOUGH.
Just by being human you are adding value to this world.
You don’t have to be all things to everyone and achieve all the things to be worthy of anything.
It’s GREAT to be motivated. But check yourself.
Make sure you are being motivated by passion. By purpose. By impact aligned to your gifts and desires.
Not by the need to please. By far of not being good enough. By the need to achieve for external validation.
I promise, it’s going to be a much tougher road if you try and grit through life in the latter mode.
Take a deep breath.
You do not have to over-function in order to be productive, aligned, and valuable.
I repeat… you do not have to achieve and out-achieve yourself to have happiness.
This can be a difficult one to internalize if you’ve been a long time achievement addiction junkie, but it’s worth recognizing.
If you start to feel that burn out, ask yourself…
“Am I doing all I am doing out of passion, excitement, and growth? Or out of fear that if I don’t do this, I’m not going to be good enough? I’m not going to achieve? I’m not going to be worthy of praise and success?”
Beware of the allure of achievement addiction.
I highly recommend you check out Nataly’s work if you’re interested in the subject, but I’ll leave you with her 5 core skills to cultivate more happiness (yes, she sees happiness as a skill, not a feeling):
Acceptance (feel your feels, don’t just focus on the positive)
Gratitude (truly being thankful for the people and circumstances of your life)
Intentional Kindness (not random, but purposeful kindness towards someone else)
Connection to Your Bigger Why (how daily tasks support your purpose or others)
Self-Care (be kind to yourself… stop the self-criticism)
If you feel like you may be in the achievement addiction category… you’re not alone.
Like I said, I’m still recovering.
But it’s so helpful to realize this isn’t how we have to operate.
Post below or shoot me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let me know how I can help so you can off the hamster wheel and find more peace, flow, and alignment in your life.