Last week, my oldest son was feeling a little down. He’s been applying for jobs without too much luck. He confessed that the summer felt like a huge loss.
Nonsense, I said. While he didn’t find his dream job this summer, he learned a bunch of new things, went new places, and generally improved himself. I reminded him that he went to Montreal for the first time. He organized his own vacation to New Orleans with his girlfriend and friends. He learned how to apply for jobs online and to SEO his resume. He went on first real job interview. He started lifting weights at the gym. He got back into running. He has reformed his college-style sleeping habits. I listed another half dozen achievements, and he felt a bit better about things.
Back in 2008, one of my favorite ways to procrastinate when grading midterms was a video game – Achievement Unlocked. The object of the game was to send a blue elephant through a series of mazes, while collecting achievements for doing crazy stuff, like dying in creative ways.
While the game itself was extremely silly, its message is important: Winning isn’t always about the one obvious big goal. Sometimes winning is doing a bunch of little things for the first time and earning an achievement point.