We live in an accomplishment oriented society, where we’re always receiving messaging about doing more, being more, and accomplishing more. Those 30 under 30 lists are always out there reminding us of the belief that if you haven’t made it by 30, you’re behind. And many of us, including me, have been impacted by this false belief. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to achieve. It’s when we feel as if our accomplishments define our value or determine the significance of our lives that it becomes out of balance.
I’ve definitely gotten caught up in judging myself for not having done more, not having met certain goals or not having achieved certain dreams by now. I never made an album, I haven’t published a book yet. I haven’t written a play yet. But in looking at what I feel I haven’t done I’ve negated what I have. It’s natural to feel disappointed with the goals we’ve held on to for a long time but never finished. But it’s not fair to us to ignore what we have achieved, and more importantly, who we’ve become. I’ve finally begun to make that shift.
A great counselor I worked with told me about the concept of “your resume vs. your eulogy”. What you’ve done is important and valid, but who you are is the thing that truly defines you. We all know people who’ve done a lot in life, but more than likely what sticks with us is the person they are and how they’ve treated us and those around them. So instead of counting accomplishments, it may be more helpful in the long run, to start giving yourself credit for the person you’ve grown into. Instead of looking at your life in terms of what you’ve been able to check off your “to-do list”, or all the things you’ve haven’t yet, it might be more gratifying to look at how much you’ve grown and who you’ve become. Your character and how you navigated the world and all its ups, downs, beauty and barriers is what will be remembered.
So the next time you’re tempted to recall all that you haven’t accomplished, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Remember all you’ve survived.
Remember the strength you’ve developed that allows you to get up when you get knocked down.
Remember all the times you moved forward when you wanted to quit.
Remember all the times you’ve been committed to showing kindness when it was hard.
Remember how you’ve stood up for yourself and others even when you were afraid.
Remember how brave you’ve been and taken risks even if they didn’t work out as planned.
Remember when you held on to your integrity even when it cost you something.
These things, and anything else you’d add to this list matter. The person you have become is an accomplishment, and that matters.
As always, be well.