Work Traits

Achievement Motivation

Achievement motivation is especially helpful in results-based cultures or work environments that use performance-based pay.
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What is achievement motivation?

Achievement motivation means thatwhen it comes to how you’re evaluated and perceived by others, you want people to notice your achievements. You actively seek a sense of accomplishment that you can attribute to your personal effort and hard work, and peer recognition means a lot to you.

You might avoid objectives that are too high risk, as you think luck takes too much of your credit. But, you probably also avoid low-risk goals, as they aren’t ambitious enough for you to feel like you’ve achieved something meaningful.

On a team, your constant desire for achievement makes you a major contributor. But, your team members might also perceive you as competitive, driven, and even perfectionistic.

We call it: Achievement

Your level of focus on achieving results, objectives, accomplishment, recognition, and rewards.

Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful men and women keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.

Conrad Hilton

Leaders who have an achievement motivation

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

Serena Williams is one of the best female tennis players of all time, and much of her success is owed to her hard work and constant drive for achievement.

In the sports world, she’s known as a bit of a perfectionist and she even describes herself that way. 

"If I’m not playing well, I do get down on myself because I am a perfectionist," she said in an interview with Glamour. "No one takes a loss harder than I do. In any sport. I hate losing more than I like winning."

Gustave Flaubert

If you’re not familiar with Gustave Flaubert, he’s a French novelist who is most famous for Madame Bovary, which is considered the masterpiece of his career.

He was highly driven toward achievement, and was notorious for being quite obsessive about his work. In fact, he reportedly only wrote a single page per week—meaning each of his novels took him 25 years to complete, as he wanted each novel to be the best it could possibly be.

He’s quoted as saying, “Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.”

Gustave Flaubert
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Martha Stewart

While her past isn’t without its bumps, Martha Stewart built a thriving business empire—including books, a magazine, a television series, and a product line.

However, she’s also frequently perceived as competitive and someone who will do what it takes to climb to the top. That’s driven her to take on several controversial and potentially even cutthroat business deals. 

“I'm a maniacal perfectionist,” she said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. “And if I weren't, I wouldn't have this company.”

The benefits of achievement motivation

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Your relentless desire to achieve makes you a major contributor on teams, as you accomplish your tasks and secure positive results.

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You’re used to meeting your objectives (or even exceeding them), which gives you a great amount of self-confidence in your work and your capabilities.

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You’re motivated by peer recognition and personal achievement. But when you have to work on a team, you drive everybody you work with to get things done and chase big goals.

The blind spots of achievement motivation

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Wanting to achieve big things is great, but constantly being focused on those major wins means you might avoid smaller projects. They don’t give you the same sense of reward, but they’re still important.

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There’s no such thing as “good enough” in your eyes. You can be obsessive and perfectionistic about your work, which can cause you some unnecessary and overwhelming stress.

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Sometimes your desire for achievement can overshadow your collaborations, and your team members might perceive you as someone who’s willing to step on people to get to the top.

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How to increase achievement motivation

1) Set specific goals.

It’s tough to be motivated toward results if you don’t actually know what specific results you’re aiming for. Use the SMART goal framework to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. 

That will give you a clear objective to work toward, which will help boost your desire for achievement.

2) Break down bigger projects.

Achievement is a difficult carrot to dangle in front of your own nose if the finish line seems like it’s still miles away. That’s why it’s helpful to break major projects or objectives down into smaller milestones.

That will give you more regular opportunities to celebrate your progress and perhaps even receive recognition from others.

3) Find an accountability partner.

Because peer recognition is a key part of achievement motivation, build in some chances for you to get some well-deserved pats on the back from others.

Loop a trusted friend or colleague in on some of the goals you want to achieve. Not only will they help keep you on track when your ambition starts to fade, but you’ll also have someone to give you some praise when you satisfy your objective.

4) Set aside time for retrospectives.

If you want to start to be more motivated by achievement and results, you need to take time to actually analyze your results, and celebrate them—no matter how small!

When you wrap up a big project or goal, set aside some time when you can reflect on that process and identify what went well and celebrate it. That will help you experience the dopamine boost of achievement and push you to chase bigger, more rewarding achievements.

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