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What are we all trying to achieve and how can achievement bring us happiness?

This post is not focusing on money, status or other objective goods. We want to look at how the Wellbeing Theory looks at achievement “a life dedicated to accomplishment for the sake of accomplishment.” (Seligman, 2011)

Read further to learn how to enhance the feelings of joy surrounding a sense of achievement!

Posted: July 3rd, 2021

Disclaimer: Although I am a mental health professional, all information and reflections are meant for educational purposes only. If you plan to make changes in your life, it may be worth consulting with loved ones and/or your wellness team. Also, this post may contain affiliate links that will connect you with some pretty cool products and when making a purchase through those links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.


Martin Seligman is the man responsible for the PERMA model and the growth of Positive Psychology. He has multiple books published, but the one I’ve been reading is Flourish. I wouldn’t say Flourish is a light read, as it talks a lot about research, but definitely a cool perspective!

That being said, let me mention more about the PERMA model. What does it stand for?

P (Positive Emotions)

E (Engagement)

R (Relationships)

M (Meaning)

A (Accomplishment)

The goal of Positive Psychology is for people to “Flourish” and the way to do this is foster a little of each of the above elements. Apparently, having fulfillment in each of these areas leads to lower risk of depression and higher life satisfaction (Rashid & Seligman, 2019). Now let’s get more specific to Accomplishment.

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Obviously, external rewards can come from achievement. I will never deny enjoying the fruits of my labour, but when it comes to a positive experience, there needs to be more.

The SENSE of accomplishment is so much more rewarding than anything. This is even better when you feel you are advancing, progressing or experiencing personal growth.

This can be quite connected with the other elements of Positive Psychology because meaningful activities, sharing the joy with others, and engaging activities that resonate with you add to the awesome!

We each have our own versions of “success,” but savoring the positive emotions from a solid accomplishment is so beneficial. When it gets counterproductive is when we get stuck in the assumptions that certain achievements SHOULD make us happy or what society tells us that should.

For now, let’s learn how to grow and enjoy the sense of achievement.

Ways to Achieve


If you are struggling to find what exactly gives a sense of achievement, this is a great option.

Consider writing a letter to yourself. In this letter, write about how YOU would like to be remembered. Your legacy.

What were your contributions to your surroundings? What have you achieved that made you proud? What positive footprint have you left?

This is also a great way to see what areas in your life you would like to add meaning. So many insights can be gained!

Use Your Strengths

There is evidence that if we use our natural strengths, we live more fulfilling and happier lives.

How is this possible? Achieving goals that include your natural strengths brings forward a flood of positive emotions because these are important pieces of YOU!

It turns out my top strengths are Love, Perspective, Humour, Creativity and Curiosity. When I feel a sense of accomplishment after any of these elements have been use, I am elated! The experience is so much more meaningful.

For more details on each Character Strength CLICK HERE to see the VIA website. Want more information? Read my blog post 24 Character Strengths.

Make a Plan

Creating a self-development plan is a great way to find your focus when it comes to growing a sense of achievement.

Are there some small habits you’d like to add or remove from your life? Likely, yes!

If you can create some mini goals among your small- and large-scale goals, you get extra boosts of achievement!

Might even help to make some specific To-Do Lists


When it comes to creating goals, it is essential to consider the barriers and obstacles to reaching them! It is time to add to your self-development plan by planning for moments of non-optimal conditions.

Things to remember:

– You can’t always rely on motivation.

– Life is typically not a smooth ride.

– Things will pop up that you likely can’t control.

So, think ahead! Consider all of the possibilities that might mess with your progress, this may even include a history of a negative mindset (see post) or self-sabotage! What are your patterns that could interfere? What are the financial, physical, time related obstacles?

Also, you can try to make SMART Goals for sticking to your progress. Read HERE for more information!

Savour the Moment

Bring forward those positive emotions!

Take the time to reflect on progress, write it down in celebration (measurement), and share the excitement with others!

You have just proven to yourself that you are capable of growth! Enjoy.

Do Not Minimize

It can become very easy to fall into the negative thought trap of “Oh, it’s not that big of a deal.” Umm… YES IT IS!

We rarely get to enjoy massive life changing positive happenings. Sure we get some! Maybe a job promotion, graduation, relationship milestone, etc, but what about all of the magical moments of progress in between?

Celebrate. You are deserving of the recognition for your small achievements, even if it is just a self-celebration.


Achievement is the last element in the puzzle of the PERMA model and an essential one!

It is time to find ways to add some more of the feeling of accomplishment into your life…


Rashid, T. & Seligman, M. (2019) Positive psychotherapy. In D. Wedding & R.J. Corsini (Eds.), Current Psychotherapies (11th ed.) 481-526. Cengage.

Seligman, M. (2011).  Flourish: A visionary new understanding of Happiness and Well-being. Atria Paperback.

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