Accomplishment is a good feeling. At any age, accomplishing whatever we set out to do brings immense satisfaction.
Do you remember learning to tie your shoes? Or the first time you mastered a bike? (Too bad kids only have Velcro now!)
Accomplishing a project or goal serves many purposes. It can teach us about persistence, so essential to success. It can bring satisfaction in having achieved something difficult or meaningful like a goal – creating a business, a book, a wonderful song or lyric. For some, it can be a legacy, a way of saying, “I was here.” For others, it can be a measure of productivity or of progress. An accomplishment reveals much about one’s personal motivation and drive.
On a less savory note, accomplishment can also be just another method to “prove” ourselves, or, to prove our worth. Western society puts a lot of pressure on accomplishment as a barometer of success. Add a few letters after your name and the world views you differently. For some people it is just this exterior recognition, the opinion of others that counts and drives them. Accomplishment for its own sake should make us think.
Can the idea of accomplishment nourish our spiritual side, or does it relate at all? Think about what consumes us daily. The focus that striving for accomplishment demands on the here and now can be healthy, but it can also occupy and squeeze out moments that we need to connect with the eternal part of ourselves. Accomplishment for its own sake will diminish the effort we can put into matters of eternal import. Too much focus and effort in that direction is not a route to mindfulness – it only feeds the ego and that is not our goal.
At the monastery, the monks view accomplishment in the context of making the abbey a better place. It is not the personal accomplishments of material life that concern them, but accomplishing the one thing that really matters, the close connection one can make with the Divine. Self-realization in spirit – that is quite an accomplishment…for the ages!