Letting Go of the “Achievement Demons”

Do you feel this gnawing need to achieve something great? Do you feel like you’re constantly striving? I have and I do. Throughout high school, I strove to get into the best college I could, make Dean’s List in college, and after college, my dreams were always huge and perhaps unrealistic, “make my own feature film,” “sell a screenplay,” “have a play reviewed in the NY Times.” Now I understand that these goals can take years comprised of steady work that builds over time. But when I was 24, I assumed I could accomplish them in a year, and when I didn’t, I felt woefully inadequate that I had “failed.”

That’s why this article by Andrew Yang, CEO of Venture for America, resonated  so much with me:  The dark side of American’s achievement culture. Yang talks about this drive to succeed, saying:

I jokingly call the hang-ups associated with a drive to achieve as “the Achievement Demons.” When I was growing up, I’d study for days trying to get good grades. When I’d get an “A,” I’d feel elation for about 30 seconds, and then a feeling of emptiness. Rinse and repeat.

Man, I can totally relate to that. His article is fascinating, and he gives some tips and tricks to avoid letting the achievement demons get you down. My favorite quote in the article is this one:

“FOMO (fear of missing out) is the enemy of valuing your own time.”

I’ve never thought about FOMO that way, but that’s exactly what it is. When your really think about it, FOMO is the biggest self-insult there is. You’re basically devaluing and insulting whatever you’re doing at that moment. It’s kind of like when you have a guest at a party who leaves early to go to another party that will seemingly be more fun. But  in this case, you’re the guest at your own party who wants to leave!

Anyhow, I highly recommend reading this article if you ever feel like you’re constantly striving.

2 responses

  1. In my humble opinion, you have the strength, the brains and the heritage of your fore fathers to conquer these demons. After all, your grandparents managed to live through World War II and your great grandparents managed to lived through the great depression. If it isn’t hard to do then it isn’t worth going.


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