Noticing achievements

A beginner's guide

Achievement: The action of achieving, completing, or attaining by exertion. (Oxford English Dictionary Definition)

For the purposes of this exercise, anything that requires effort and has an outcome is an achievement - eg. getting out of bed on a cold morning; tidying your room; completing an assignment; swimming a lap of the pool; asking someone out; solving a problem; preparing a meal.

  • Practice listing and analysing your achievements over a particular period. You can choose the schedule that suits you. For example, review achievements for each day and list three that are different from each other - or the three most meaningful for you...or focus on the achievements you would usually ignore.
  • Next, list the qualities this achievement demonstrates - eg. ability to tolerate physical discomfort, ability to tolerate emotional discomfort, perseverance, courage, physical strength, physical dexterity, mental energy, analytical ability, creativity, acquired knowledge, flexibility, communication skills, lateral thinking, self-care.
  • If you like, you can rate the extent to which this quality was required for each particular achievement. This is to discourage you from assessing achievements as insignificant and not worth recording.
  • Be on the alert for ideas that attempt to undermine the achievement - eg. I fluked it. Anyone can do that. Next time, I should do better. The task now is not to look to the future, or compare yourself against selected others - but to develop an awareness of achievements as they happen.

This is important because, without this knowledge of ourselves, our sense of worth is always vulnerable and we put it to the test every time we attempt something. This is stressful and discourages us from experimenting or taking risks.

Achievement Qualities
Ringing John to ask for help
  • Ability to tolerate emotional discomfort (A lot)
  • Courage (Medium)
  • Communication skills (A little)
  • Self-care (I don't have to go it alone) (A lot!)
Cooking Laksa
  • Creativity (A little)
  • Acquired Knowledge (Medium)
Read scientific paper
  • Mental energy (Medium)
  • Analytical ability (A little)
  • Perseverance (a Lot)