Achievement Addiction Is a Real Thing

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I’m an achievement addict, and I’m working on breaking that addiction.

Before I go on, I want to be clear that this isn’t a humble brag. This is not the equivalent of the person who walks around fake-lamenting about how they wish they weren’t so talented at absolutely everything! This isn’t about talent; it’s about a deep emotional attachment to defining myself by what I produce.

I’m talking about a mindset where the search for achievement overrides everything else. It’s a kind of obsession that drives every decision you make. It’s exhausting and it’s dangerous. It sustains ideologies about work that are bad for everyone. It’s a monolithic goal that stands in the way of happiness because it clouds judgment and overvalues production.

I wrote about it here: “Don’t Fall in Love with Achievement.”

Let me know if you can relate.



9 thoughts on “Achievement Addiction Is a Real Thing

  1. DUDE! That was awesome. You really hit the nail on the head where it comes to our relationships with our occupations. I can’t say that I can lay all the blame at the doorstep of the moral philosophy of productivity. The fact is that the willingness to work hard is a virtue and laziness is not.
    I understand the emotionally blinding desire for validation. It is an addiction. I understand that some people follow twelve step programs to overcome it. If any of you are reading this, I say good for you. Do what works.
    Rather than fighting the desire to achieve, I have subverted the addiction to my own twisted purposes. I have decided that the arbiters of excellence will be chosen by me. They’re not pushovers. I get as much criticism as praise and that’s the way (UH-HUH UH-HUH) I like it. They listen without prejudice, speak their minds without fear and there’s always respect. This because I’m generally one of their arbiters of excellence.
    This is one Hell of a lot easier to do after you retire, I’m not blowing my horn too loud. When I was still working in the industrial sector, I did all that shit. Even then, though, my objective was clear: To exercise my God-given, unalienable right to pursue happiness. It became clear early on that the only way I was ever going to catch it was if I was the one driving the wagon, and drive it I did. I was one of those constantly moving real go getters. I achieved things, or so I was told.
    I took on projects that others would quit before they got stuck with them. I didn’t care. The more it sucked, the more I wanted to do it. The ones higher up the food chain were suitably impressed and told me so. I didn’t care about that either. Write it on my paycheck.
    That was my efficiency program: Earn as much money as the guys working a ton of overtime without all the overtime. Pursuing happiness requires lots of time, since, if you are doing it just right, it permeates every moment of your life. It usually takes a bit of money as well, but I found that I would never have enough until I learned to say enough. Between thirty years of hard ass work, a solid financial strategy and a millionaire’s helping of luck, I was able to retire at forty six while my wife took a part time job at a library, which she absolutely loves and provides the necessary benefits.
    I’m not writing this from the beach, I’m in my converted garage, it’s not a cave and I am not a caveman, which makes up two hundred forty square feet of our thirteen hundred square foot house. We have a ten year plan to take a vacation in Europe. Until then we take a couple short driving vacations every year, staying in the best accommodations we can afford, which are pretty nice because nothing can ruin a nice vacation like a crappy hotel, but I digress.
    It occurs to me that a digression could be easily enough edited out but I think I’m going to leave it. I’m not big on editing my stuff too vigorously. If I ever write a book, I’m definitely going to need a ruthless, stone hearted sociopath for an editor, I know. Something has to border on the absurd before I’ll cut it out, and that is a pretty distant border.
    LOOK! UP AHEAD! IT’S THE POINT! I figured this one out from playing my guitar: Your bad habits become your style. I hook my thumb over the top of the neck, I rarely use more than two fingers on the fretboard, I can’t play a G chord worth a shit and you can just forget about barre chords. For all that, I can still get my message across. Good is good. I’m always learning and trying to get better, because trying to get better is a virtue, but make no mistake, I’m good right now. And hey, Django Reinhardt played with two fingers and he was a flippin” genius.
    OK I know it’s getting long so let me finish this up with the story of my absolute most towering achievement. If you’re having trouble staying awake, go get a nice cup of tea or something, you don’t want to miss this.
    It was early October, 1995, and my wife was flying from Florida to North Carolina in the morning to find us a place to rent. She was sleeping while I sat in the spare room with my guitar and a head full of thoughts when suddenly a song just poured out of me. The lyrics came so fast my pencil could barely keep up and, for the first time ever, I played it without any mistakes the first time. The whole process took about twenty minutes.
    The song itself was a ballad about our meeting and courtship. When I was done I went into the bedroom and woke her up (She doesn’t like that). I sat on the edge of the bed and played my song for her. The touch of her tears on my face as she kissed me was worth more than a dump truck full of Grammys. Good is GOOD.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I can’t imagine my life without Cathy. She helps me maintain my perspective and I need that. I try to keep my head on straight but it’s not always easy in the moment.
    I’m glad you liked my bit, I enjoyed writing it. Thanks for another great post and a sterling opportunity to pontificate.

    Liked by 1 person

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