The Achievement Paradox

Getting things done gives us a remarkable sense of achievement. We feel as though something we started has been completed that the circle has been made whole. When things remain only partly done there can be a feeling of frustration or disappointment about what could have but hasn’t been achieved.

When we achieve what we set out to do we can say to the others ‘Look at what I’ve done, if I can do that so can you!’

Achievement gives us such an incredible sense of satisfaction that it’s possible for us to have set a goal, taken steps towards it and actually done what we set out to do. We can therefore hold our head up high and smile at those who doubted our ability. Not only that but whatever we do can also be an inspiration to others who also have doubts about their ability to achieve something similar.

So it’s important for our own self-esteem to achieve something regularly. In order to do this we must set goals which are realistic and achievable by us bearing in mind our age, ability and personal situation. We won’t get that sense of satisfaction when a goal is set too high to be a realistic goal for us to attain.

It’s a balance to be struck between setting goals which are too easy and don’t give that same sense of achievement compared with setting goals which are some sort of a challenge yet that challenge can be met by us and the goal achieved, not too easily but with the possibility that it can be met eventually.

This is a challenge for schools and colleges which want to challenge their pupils to aim higher and do more yet without making those of lower ability feel rejected and useless.

A good teacher will adjust goals to different levels. Ideally the sense of achievement in some activities can come from the taking part rather than the winning or the competitive nature of what is being done. We must have things to do at which achievement is possible at various levels with the possibility of increasing our ability as time passes. Swimming is an example of this. A child may be awarded a badge to recognise when they have swum a certain distance, perhaps a width of the pool at firs, yet with a sense of achievement being recognised, then with increasing ability further badges or awards are possible.

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