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Accomplishment

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What have you achieved with your life? What could you look back and claim at the end of your life? What positive difference has your life made? What is the best use of this life, given this much good fortune?

The words “accomplishment” and “achievement” are often retrospective, as people look back at their lives or the immediate past at something already completed. This may be why they appear to be less interesting to positive psychologists than words like “goal pursuit” or “motivation” that affect ongoing and not yet completed endeavors. For example, neither accomplishment nor achievement appears in the index of either Positive Psychology in Practice or Flourishing. The book Character Strengths & Virtues lists achievement only in the expression achievement motivation that relates to the measurement of the Persistence character strength. The Positive Psychology Handbook mentions achievement in the context of self-esteem and of flow.

In his book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, Martin Seligman argues that accomplishment is something that people seek even in the absence of other aspects of the full life, such as positive emotion, engagement, and meaning. Whether it is truly separable is an ongoing matter for debate. In the references below, it is closely linked to goal pursuit in particular. Perhaps goal pursuit, accomplishment, and meaning form a continuum from looking forward, to experiencing now, to looking back.

PPND articles concerning Accomplishment

 

By Timothy T. C. So:

Flourishing or Soulless Work?

By David J. Pollay:

The Keys to a Happy and Successful Life

Find Your Voice By Tapping Your Strengths

Gratitude and Giving Will Lead to Your Success – describes how accomplishment often depends on other people

By Margaret Greenberg:

What Leaders Must Do, Know & “Be”

Using the “L” Word in Business – making the connection between Love and accomplishment

Employee Recognition: How One Company Puts Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

Caroline Miller

By Caroline Miller:

How To Be Happy At College — And Beyond! Notes from One Mom to a College Freshman – “Ask more of yourself than you think possible. “

By Doug Turner:

Thoughts on Performance Reviews and Positive Psychology

By Aren Cohen:

“The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness” – A talk by Edward Hallowell, MD

By Gloria Park:

Physical Activity and the Good Life

Kathryn Britton

By Kathryn Britton:

Taking Positive Psychology to Work, Part 1: Positive Core and Strengths

Self-talk: A positive intervention under construction

By John Yeager:

The Digital Scrapbook/Portfolio – Self-Reflection, Savoring and Subjective Well-Being

Alice in “Performance” Wonderland – Non-Zero Challenges the Red Queen

 

Other resources on Accomplishment
Hewitt, J. P. (2005). The social construction of self-esteem. In C. R. Snyder & S. Lopez, Handbook of Positive Psychology, pp. 135-147. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
 
Nakamura, J. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2005). The concept of flow. In C. R. Snyder & S. Lopez, Handbook of Positive Psychology, pp. 89-105. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1991). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper Perennial.

Latham, G. (2006). Work motivation: History, theory, research, and practice. Sage Publications.
Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). The how of happiness. New York: Penguin Press.

Happiness activity number 10 is Committing to Your Goals (pp. 205-226).

“People who strive for something personally significant, whether it’s learning a new craft, changing careers, or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations.” P. 205.

Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111-131. Available Here.  
Peterson, C. & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues. Oxford University Press.

Courage: Emotional strengths that exercise the will to accomplish goals in the face of obstacles

Humility and modesty: Letting accomplishments speak for themselves, not seeking limelight

Sheldon, K. M. & Krieger, L. (2004). Does law school undermine law students? Examining changes in goals, values, and well-being. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 22, 261-286. Available here for personal use only.

Dr. Sheldon has a number of PDF versions of his articles available here for personal use only.

Sheldon, K. (2004). Optimal human being: An integrated multi-level perspective. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.





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