Are you Successful or Accomplished?


A few months back, as it was approaching 6:00 p.m., I looked at my to-do list for the day (I’m a big list maker) and there was not one thing I could cross off.  It was a combination of distractions, email, changing priorities, and a dose of just plain laziness, but basically, nothing was getting done.

And what does a girl do when she is mad at herself for not getting anything done?  Clearly, she goes on Facebook to tell her 400 friends that she is not getting anything done.  I’m not sure if this was public self-flagellation or an attempt at sympathy (and exoneration), but that day, I posted as my status update: “I wish I was getting more accomplished today.”

Almost instantly, my incredibly witty cousin, Heidi, replied, “I don’t know — I think you’re pretty accomplished already.”

Aside from being a wonderful play on words, Heidi’s note made me pause and think about what would cause her to say that about me.  It was nice, and gave me a little boost of temporary happiness, but it wasn’t the solution to the problem.  I still needed to do something to make me feel like the day wasn’t a total waste.

To maintain happiness, I need to feel a little bit of progress towards success each day. This is not true of everyone, but to me, accomplished is not the same as successful, and I need to see myself as successful.

For me, there are certain benchmarks I have to achieve to think of myself as successful, and I simply haven’t reached them yet, so it doesn’t matter what I’ve done in the past.  That was then, this is now.  Those benchmarks may change over time, especially as they are achieved and the next ones appear on the horizon, but that quest keeps me in motion, which makes me very happy.


One thought on “Are you Successful or Accomplished?

  • Heidi R. C.

    I think that the way we see ourselves and our “accomplishments” is often different from the view gained by others. From day to day, moment to moment, we accomplish all manner of things, and we measure the value of that work against our own standards and goals. Take a given afternoon. Maybe I sat down for 10 minutes or maybe I cleaned out the fridge or maybe I went through three months’ worth of back accounts receivable, whatever. If I wrote down all of these things in a list, and I have been known to do such a thing, I could look at them and evaluate whether, against my standards and my goals, they constitute progress for that day. Maybe I would think I had accomplished nothing of note. I could show that same list to a friend whose opinion I generally value and hear her say, to my shock, “Wow! You sure got a lot done today! You must be exhausted!” Could that sort of outside view be equally or more correct? Sometimes it is a matter of just stepping back from what you got done and reevaluating the day’s definition of success, even if it means splitting the definition into macro-goals and micro-goals. Plus, don’t forget to give yourself extra credit for those above-and-beyond things you did in the past!

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