achievement vs accomplishment

Achievement Vs Accomplishment – Understanding the Difference

It doesn’t matter whether or not you consider yourself a highly action-oriented person; one thing is certain with us all – we like being successful in both small and big tasks.

This is why we often use terms like achievement and accomplishment to describe the things we get done.

What do these words mean, though?

Are they the same?

Although many people use achievement and accomplishment interchangeably, the terms do not have the same meaning.

This is especially true when you consider the terms from the perspective of handling or managing projects.

In this quick post, I’ll compare achievement vs accomplishment to show you the subtle but distinct difference between them. You’ll also see how one of these terms can build self-confidence and self-esteem within teams.

What Is an Achievement?

An achievement means reaching a target, an objective, or a goal. Typically, the correct context to use the term is when you do something that primarily benefits only you.

Take a minute to think of how you felt when you reached one of your major goals in life.

You probably felt proud of yourself! And that feeling got you thinking you are unstoppable and can reach any goals you set.

That’s a good thing because achievement propels you to greater levels of success on a personal level.

Examples of Achievement

Here are some clear examples of achievement:

  • Buying your dream house or car
  • Training for and winning a race or completing a marathon
  • Getting a promotion at work
  • Smashing sales target
  • Receiving awards for exceptional and successful performance at work or school

Reaching any of these goals mainly benefits only the individual – you. And that’s one of the major differences in impact when comparing achievement vs accomplishment.

What Is an Accomplishment?

An accomplishment refers to completing a task, job, or project. Usually, the term is used when you do something that positively impacts you and others around you.

You get a greater sense of fulfillment when you accomplish something that benefits others, even if it is just one person apart from you.

A great accomplishment is about creating positive results for the world outside of you (instead of focusing only on yourself by achievements).

Think of it as a selfless measure of success.

The concept of accomplishment usually means you are working toward a goal that’s greater than yourself.

Examples of Accomplishment

Here are some examples to drive home the point:

  • Participating in a communal activity
  • Winning a team sport
  • Finding a cure for diseases
  • Speaking out for the less privileged or oppressed

Accomplishing a project usually goes beyond an individual. Even if you lead a team to accomplish something great at work, school, or in your community, the satisfaction of that particular task is not just about what you did but the benefit it brings to others.

Achievement vs Accomplishment: What’s the Difference?

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Individual Focus vs Collective Focus

As you’ve probably figured by now, achievement primarily benefits the individual. This is generally a good thing because it gives you a sense of pride.

However, being driven solely by achievement puts the focus only on your wants and needs.

Don’t take this the wrong way, though.

Achievement is important because it gives you a strong sense of purpose and direction.

You are more likely to reach a target if you can align the task to your sense of meaning, and that’s a great quality anyone would want to develop.

That said, committing to goals that are greater than your personal gains is a praiseworthy thing to do.

And that’s where accomplishments come into the picture.

For example, working all night as a team to restore your company’s services after a major outage is an accomplishment with a far-reaching positive impact.

The positive end results will benefit your company, your team, and the customers who rely on your company’s services. Plus, it gives you a deeper sense of satisfaction.

Achievement Tends to Be Relative

One of the not-so-exciting things about achievement is that it can be relative, depending on the context or environment.

Here’s an example to help you understand better.

A salesman may feel a sense of pride if he is able to beat his sales target for the quarter. But what if he finds out that his colleague did twice that number in the same period?

His feeling of achievement will probably be short-lived.

Why is that?

A big achievement in one environment or context may amount to very little in another context.

Accomplishment Is Universal

On the other hand, accomplishments are usually consistent across all environments, even if the degree of accomplishment varies.

For example, winning team sports may not be considered as being on the same level as finding a cure for a specific disease. However, both accomplishments bring valid and significant value to everyone involved.

Accomplishment Builds Teams

If you piece together everything I’ve discussed so far, it is easy to see that accomplishment is a strong binding force for teams.

It shifts the focus from individual achievement to collective accomplishment.

This is crucial in managing team projects because having individuals who work together as a team is a lot more productive than having egocentrics on a team.

And just before you think that the concept of team projects applies only to the work environment, remember that many aspects of our lives depend on others to a certain extent.

In other words, your family, classmates, work colleagues, and community can also be considered part of your team.

A focus on individual achievements rarely leads to accomplishments, especially in teams. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for accomplishments to bring about personal achievements.

Key Takeaways

American woman sit at desk feel euphoric win online lottery
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Why does it matter to compare achievement vs accomplishment or know the difference between them?

Here’s the deal.

Achievements are great – the process of achieving your goals usually forces you to become the person who is worthy of attaining those goals.

However, accomplishments nudge you to improve yourself and hone your people skills.

In other words, you become a better person and build quality relationships.

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