The Satisfaction of a Job Well Done
July 30, 2021
During the recent School holidays, I made an extension to my concrete driveway. The total area was about seven square meters. It involved one tonne of concrete mix and eight bags of cement. I had to prepare the ground, frame the area, and fortify it with steel mesh ensuring the new structure was fixed to the existing driveway. It challenged my skill set considerably. (I am not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to manual labour!)
Because this job represented a huge challenge to my abilities, I experience an enormous sense of accomplishment now that I have successfully completed the task. I look at my new extended driveway each day with great satisfaction. It has enhanced my wellbeing.
American Psychologist Martin Seligman has identified ‘accomplishment’ or ‘achievement’ as being necessary aspects of wellbeing. As we bring to realisation our plans, we experience a whole range of positive emotions including satisfaction, delight, even joy. That has certainly been the case with my driveway. Who would have thought a concrete driveway could bring such pleasure!
This got me thinking about the place of achievement in education, especially during a period of remote learning. We have now accepted that the experience of lockdown can take its toll on our mental health. We know we must follow certain practices to foster our wellbeing. One of those practices is to set and accomplish goals.
It is good for us to remember this as our students work remotely. One way to counteract the negative feelings produced by their isolation from others is to encourage them to complete their work. It sounds a bit simplistic, doesn’t it? And perhaps it is. But the research suggests that when we set and accomplish goals, it goes well for us.
There will be times during this challenging season, where our children might need more convincing reasons to do their schoolwork than that ‘it is their duty’ or that ‘they will fail if they don’t’. Perhaps they need to hear something more positive: like the fact that the completion of a task can produce positive feelings which can counteract the negative feelings that the dislocation of lockdown creates. If this all sounds a little far-fetched, you need to see the smile on my face every time I drive into my driveway!