I find it very easy to get mixed up between gratitude and achievement, but I don’t think that leads to very healthy outcomes. Let me try to explain…
Gratitude is about recognising all the good things you have in your life, often especially those that are unmerited or down to your own efforts, and so becoming more thankful as you go through life.
Achievement is about recognising the worthwhile things that you’ve managed to accomplish, and taking a healthy (but not excessively proud) satisfaction from them.
Both are good things, but I’d like to suggest we should focus more on gratitude rather than achievement.
Recently I’ve been thinking again about rhythms of life, and how to both foster gratitude but also encourage progress in my life. And I’ve come to a decision about reflecting on gratitude and achievement, one on a daily basis and one a weekly basis.
So now each night when I go to bed, the thing that I reflect on as my head hits the pillow is gratitude. I think through at least three things that I’m grateful for happening that day. And I especially focus on the things that are totally unmerited, the blessings and good things that I didn’t deserve or do anything to create, e.g. a beautiful day’s weather, a kind word or deed from someone else, an answered prayer that has blessed someone else. I try to reflect on gratitude daily.
And then once a week, last thing on a Friday afternoon, I reflect on three to five accomplishments that I’ve achieved over the previous week, and that are markers of progress on various projects I’m working on at work, at church, in my personal life, etc. So I reflect on achievement weekly.
It’s so easy to mix these up, i.e. to reflect on achievements daily, and on gratitude weekly. But I find this is a really unhealthy way to look at things. I can’t make progress on things every day, so a daily focus on achievement becomes frustrating. And then only a weekly reflection on gratitude means I’ll forget about so many of the good things I have to be grateful for.
So I’m going for gratitude and achievement, in that order, daily and weekly respectively.
Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s an experienced leadership trainer, author of biographies on John Wesley and William Wilberforce, and is also passionate about praying for London. He enjoys good films, good food, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markonerock.