Our reward systems are a bit skewed. A lot of times we expect a reward or something physical when we accomplish something and we forget to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment itself. One important part of flourishing is working toward an accomplishment in which the reward is merely the accomplishment itself, and you may be surprised to see how it enhances your sense of well-being.
At the end of the workday, do you get in your car or sit on the train and mentally run through the list of things you got done? Feeling a sense of accomplishment is an important part of our sense of self-worth. Beating up on yourself because you think you could have accomplished more can dent your confidence and self-esteem and leave you feeling depleted at the end of the day.
Maybe you could have used the hours in your day more effectively and accomplished more on your to-do list, but you probably accomplished more than you think.
One way to do this is to break down your goals. If your goals are too big to accomplish in one day, it can feel daunting and demoralizing. If you have a big presentation to do, have sub points like “gather research” and “reach out to sources” as smaller accomplishable goals.
Another reason we tend to feel unaccomplished at the end of the day is because we simply forget all that we’ve done. Make note of the tasks you’ve completed during the day, and those you’ve made progress on.
If you find yourself often overwhelmed by the number of tasks still left to do on your to-do list at the end of the day, it’s possible that you need to spread those tasks out over a longer period of time, or spend some time re-examining your goals. If you had to take a day off to care for a sick child, for example, reorganize your goals for the week and move things to the next week. Be kind to yourself and shift expectations — no one has a perfect day or week — and you’re doing the best you can. That in itself is worth celebrating.