Are we, as a society, pushing ourselves too hard?

I just want to make my family proud of me. I just want to achieve something’ the celebrity spoke to the camera as part of one of those fitness challenge TV shows where the contestants are pushed to extreme physical limits.  

He’d already had a very successful career under his belt. He’d reached the top levels as a professional athlete. 

Surely his family was ALREADY proud of him?!

Hasn’t he already ‘ACHIEVED something’?   

When is enough, enough? When have we ‘achieved’ enough in life?  

I watched a video clip recently on social media, of a 9-year-old entrepreneur in conversation with a public figure who was hailing her greatness and mentoring her in business acumen. The 9-year-old had also attended a recent marketing conference.  (That’s a marketing conference for adults, not children).  

We’re indoctrinating ourselves into the religion of capitalism at younger and younger ages. Not to mention the kudos, validation, and wiring that this child will receive about how fabulous it is to ACHIEVE in life, possibly leading to basing a lot of their self worth on this glorified ability.  

There’s something distasteful about this. 

These are both examples of achievement on steroids.


What’s the driving factor behind this insatiable appetite we have to achieve? 

Why can’t we just BE? Is that not enough? 

Apparently not, in our culture today. 

How many of us feel intensely GUILTY if we sit around doing…. (hush tones) ‘nothing’.  

It comes under the category of toxic masculinity.  

Achieving is great… when it’s in balance.  

We live in a world where we achieve for the sake of achieving.  To tick it off the list, get the badge, to be able to wear the t-shirt. 


Perhaps it’s our primary caregivers or whomever were our first authority figures.

Somewhere along the line we must have accidentally picked up the message that who we were AT OUR CORE, was not enough.  

We internalised this (as a child would) and as a result, started a lifetime of striving to achieve.  

Here’s the thinking process behind it:

If I achieve – I can impress – if I can impress – I can be accepted and loved. If I am accepted and loved – I won’t be thrown out of the tribe – if I’m not thrown out of the tribe – I get to SURVIVE.  

Can we link this relentless need to achieve back to our SURVIVAL wiring? 

If so, that’s a particularly strong coupling. 

What would it take for us to grow up knowing our own value and worth, like what organically happens in indigenous cultures, for example? 

It’s multi-layered and there are things we can do as adults if we find ourselves in the ‘overachieving but never enough’ category. 

We can allow it to sink in that we no longer need validation from anybody external to ourselves.  We can reflect on any missing pieces from our childhood and decide that now we will give to ourselves any missing acceptance, love, validation or approval.  

We can take a long hard look at our deeper motivations for all our achieving.  

I imagine it would mean taking our foot off the gas a little, trusting in the natural order of our lives with a little less individual competitive drive and a little more collective collaboration.  

Perhaps if we contemplate what we’re really looking for, we might find an alternative way to reach the same destination, but without all the early mornings, late nights, stress and exhaustion. 

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