High Achieving: Why Chasing Achievement Can Fail To Bring You The Feel-Good Hit You Expect

I went to London recently to see some friends I haven't for a while. And this might seem trivial. But it was nearly a whole day spent on connection. And well away from anything I could consider 'productive'.

Now, it's not like I wouldn't have done that in the past. I would. And did. But I'd have found myself increasingly uncomfortable as the time-to-leave drew closer and closer.

But why?

David Bird Cognitive Hypnotherapy Leighton Buzzard, Connection, Feeling not good enough, fear of failure

I'd find myself worrying about things I had to do. Starting some. Avoiding others. And trying to push back leaving as far as I could to make sure I'd done enough before heading out.

But enough for what?

Enough to feel I wasn't failing. Enough to feel like I'd earned the break from my to-do list. Enough to make the uncomfortable not-good-enough feeling in the pit of my stomach finally disappear.

The problem is, enough never felt like enough.

Achievement often feels like the failure-killer. The good-enough drug. Get the dosage right and all the anxiety, guilt, and self-loathing dissolves away in a blissful state of accomplishment-contentment.

But rather than chasing the dragon it can be more like chasing the horizon. The further we go, the further ahead we can see. With eyes down, navigating the challenging path ahead, a step forwards feels like progress.

Until we stop. And look back up.

The horizon moves. In the same way our mind moves the proverbial achievement goal-posts. But we don't see the illusion. So we keep chasing. And all too quickly we're caught up between the push-pull of the defeated "I can't believe I'm only this far" and the determined "just a little bit more!"


I set myself a cut-off for heading out the door that day. However productive I'd been. Which wasn't as productive as I could've been, had I allowed the allure of achievement to entice me with its promise of a feel-good hit for continuing the chase. But it was progress. And it was enough.

Achievement might feel like the failure-killer. And it can be. But only once we learn when good enough really is good enough.

(Struggling with fear of failure, feeling good enough, or getting enough done? Cognitive Hypnotherapy in Leighton Buzzard can help you. Get in touch to learn how).