What Are You Really Achieving?

Achievers often go above and beyond the call of most. They’ll reach farther and higher than the average man.

These achievers, yourself included, may have lofty and worthy goals. You might even think you’re achieving greatness.

But are you? Or are you chasing the achievements of what society deems worthy?

Every culture seems to have a type of prestige the alpha chases after. This status symbol may be:

The Mercedes Benz SLS in the driveway

The 3 story home with green grass, a white picket fence, and a swimming pool in the backyard

The six-figure job that causes you to be away from your family 5 nights a week

You’ve seen these achievements dangled in front of you, I’m sure. I know I’ve seen them hailed as the be-all, end-all for achievement. But is it really the best you can achieve?

Or is there more?

The Pitfalls Of High Achievement

Everyone, especially men, are driven to achieve more and more. You even see this in newlyweds who desire to be on the same financial footing as their parents, only except the newlyweds are just starting out.

This drive for achievement and status symbols begin the long and arduous financial turmoil young couples face as they realize what you own doesn’t relate the success you have. Just the debt you may accumulate.

High achievers at work discover they’ve lost the love of their wife and children as they strive to achieve a livable income to provide above and beyond for those they love. They work hard for the big house, fancy cars, luxury vacations. Only to lose it all when the dam breaks at home. Interesting paradigm here…

Even the achievers who desire to do great work through volunteerism can find themselves lacking in other areas. Maybe it’s a neglected spouse or child. It could be they fail to put in an effort to be physically fit.

There are scary pitfalls to high achievement and what society tells us we must achieve.

A New Way Of Thinking About Achievement

Eleanor Roosevelt once said:

I wonder if we have really grown to the point where the size of a house in which a person lives will have little interest to his neighbors, but what he contributes in mind and character to the community will bring him respect and admiration.

Sadly, I don’t think we’ve reached the point Eleanor Roosevelt wondered. More often than not, I think we’ve strayed further and further from this vision of investing in the community. People still focus on the greatness of their careers. The size of their cars. Or the layout of their homes.

Thankfully, I don’t think it’s too late to change the way our society thinks about achievement and the work we do in the world.

It starts with me. And then you. Next comes your family and friends. Eventually, the whole world can be touched by a different way of thinking about achievement.

When we begin to focus on working in our communities, touching lives locally, we can begin to see a new achievement being touted.

One that says the effort we put into our families, our friends, our community is really the crowning achievement we should all be working for.

Question: What do you think, are we striving to achieve the wrong things? What can we do about it? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Joe – great thought for the day – there is always a tension between our motives. It is very difficult (if not impossible) to be purely selfless – but it can be very easy to be 100% selfish. When I notice “I, me, myself” etc showing up in my vocabulary, that means its time to shift my thinking – that helps get me back on track.

    • That’s great thinking Jon. By noticing the words you’re using, you can definitely see if you’re becoming all about you.

  • Shing Degano

    Countless of us live in houses not homes; own showcased cars not wheels of necessity and have lucrative incomes that pay the price for our parental/spousal absence from home. If we learn how to consciously introspect on the things we’re achieving, we’ll realize that we’ve been investing our efforts perpetuated by society’s rule. One very thing we should ask ourselves before chasing man’s measurement of success is that: how would this goal of mine be a strong vessel for the kingdom of God? After all, isn’t life the life of many journeys with Him, the crowning heavenly mark? Thanks for the “lift” of your content.

    • Shing, you always make me think when you take the time to comment on my blogs. Thanks for doing that!

  • I’d love a large house, landscapers and a choice of cars to drive. But that’s not my goal. It is to help people seeking inner fulfillment to rediscover the joys of participating in live (i.e. not through a loudspeaker or headsets) music, especially “classical” (or “traditional,” or “formal”). For me, I will have achieved that when there are a larger number of performing ensembles presenting more concerts to bigger audiences than when I arrived. And then I’ll move on to the next region… again.

    • Stephen, that’s an awesome goal to have. It also sets a proper focus upon that which is important, people rather than physical things.

  • Pioneer Outfitters

    Oh Yes! I shudder to think what Eleanor Roosevelt would think of today~ but that really isn’t the point. But you hit it. We MUST see it, understand it and CHANGE the way we think of it and of what Community truly is. (Nice quote by the way- I had never read that one.)
    It absolutely DOES start with me. You. Him. Her. It MUST! And we have the power, right here, Joe! What a wonderful bit of magic, if you think about it… we have the power to touch the whole world with goodness, generosity, kindness, compassion and enlightenment right here, right now. There is no place we cannot reach- What in the heck are you (me, she, he) waiting for?!
    I believe most are just plain scared. I feel… that even though we may have pieces of leadership inside us, all of us- most folks are followers and no one wants to take that step too quick… no one wants to be standing there alone.
    It (being concerned and focused on what REALLY matters: family, community) means letting go of what we are programed for and society has shaped itself to require for us for survival. That can be pretty terrifying, I suppose. But seriously, anyone with enough sense to be online- should have enough sense to see the world is NOT going to a better or shinier place.
    I’m holding the line.

    • That we do Amber-Lee. We can touch the world. We’ve just got to grab the opportunity and go for it. The world won’t change unless we begin the change.

  • Too often in my life I’ve strived for the wrong things, most of them selfish things. I made the decision to strive to help people, to serve and add value.

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