Accomplishment Button: Separating Self-Worth from Completed Checklists

Do you know someone who is motivated by achievements? On the upside, they aim their goals high, create order from chaos, and are of the go-getter mentality. The flipside? Possibly controlling, painfully scheduled, and with hard-to-please standards? (Heads up, maybe it’s you I’m describing!)

Every strength becomes a weakness when overused. Consider a rubber band. When stretched too far it snaps.

Let’s look at what happens when the Accomplishment Button is overstimulated

Learn the three most common negative reactions and how to RESET and return to a positive response. 

Let’s start with this: there is nothing wrong with being driven by your accomplishments.

When life is healthy, when there is balance, and when all is well in the world, ticking the boxes on checklists for your satisfaction is great. But what happens when things aren’t quite right? When uncertainty creeps in? When those boxes are left unchecked?

 Simply put – what happens when the Accomplishment Button is pushed and you aren’t getting the results you anticipated?

Lash out – A loud verbal outburst, a pointing of the finger, and all topped off with blame-filled accusations. (“Why didn’t you”… “I thought I told you to”…)

 What to do when you feel like lashing out / What to do instead –

  1. Recognize – do you hear yourself or the other person getting louder?
  2. Breath – stop talking, pause, and breathe. A deep breath – slow inhale and slow exhale. Begin to listen.
  3. Acknowledge existing accomplishments – What has been accomplished? Put your attention there first. Acknowledge yourself or the others for what they have completed.  Now what needs to be completed next. Is everyone clear on the next steps, deadlines, etc. Where is the confusion or lack of understanding?

Do-it-all – Taking on a long list of tasks and responsibilities to ensure “things get done and get done right.” This opens the door to disruption of efficiency, resistance from others, and a lack of cooperation.

What to do when you feel overwhelmed/ What to do instead –

  1.  Manage Expectations – are you working with realistic expectations? Are there enough minutes in the day to realistically complete the list? Check the timeline. Manage expectations, yours, and others.
  2. Get Clear – are you or others clear on what is expected? How do you know? Revisit the timeline, the expectation for correctness. Is there room for good enough? Ask for feedback on the expectations. It is the only way you will know for certain that everyone understands the task at hand and the desired outcome. “Yes, I understand” is not the response. “I understand the desired outcome to be (feedback the details)…. “ is the road to clear understanding and efficiency.
  3. Adjust the course. Once you have revisited the list, reviewed the timeline, and gained clarity from all involved, consider what can stay the same and what needs to change? Once the adjustment, if any, is made, revisit step two to confirm that everyone is clear, especially you.

Burn out – Working too hard and without rest will eventually lead to one inevitable thing – a complete 180 from the healthy accomplishment-minded person plagued with the inability to fully focus and a complete lack of motivation.

What to do when you feel like giving up / What to do instead –

  1. Recognize – that you have lost the motivation to move forward. It’s as if there is no longer enough energy in the battery to keep the car’s headlights on. You can’t move forward when it all goes dark.
  2. Empathize – what feelings you are feeling. Is it frustration? Give yourself permission to be frustrated. Of course, you are frustrated you can’t accomplish something that is important to you.  Angry – sure anger is escalated frustration and fear. Sad, maybe, you were very excited to see this project come to fruition and now that expectation is not being met, that breeds disappointment and disappointment can lead to feeling sad. Something you wanted you didn’t get. Or at least not yet.
  3. Rest – your mind, your body, your spirit. Give yourself and others a break. Ask what is needed now? Vacations revitalize us because we are away from it all and it gives the brain, body, and spirit a chance to rest. Create mini-vacations; 20-minute naps, meditate once a day, periodically close your eyes for 10 minutes and focus on your breathing, take a walk or stand up and move every hour for at least 5 minutes, eat healthily – back away from the refined sugar and processed foods. Drink more water.

Knowing these three manifestations of the Accomplishment Button being pushed is one thing applying the knowledge to your own life is another. First, identify the reaction for what it is. Follow this up and address anyone else who might have been hurt or affected by your reaction. Lastly, remind yourself that self-worth is more than what you’ve done. Give yourself grace, grow forward, and center yourself on this: You are more than the words on your resume or a finished list of to-dos. You are more than your accomplishments.