What good have you done in 2011? Where do you really shine? What have you done that makes you proud of yourself?
This writing prompt has made me realize that I don’t usually think about my accomplishments. I write lists of daily gratitudes, and lots of lists and maps about what to do — but not thinking about what I have DONE.
When I was a university professor, I always kept a running tally of my accomplishments: a presentation here, an article there, recitals, committee work, awards. In academia, this exercise is always for the purpose of justifying one’s existence, a piece of ammunition in the competitive snake-pit that is the tenure and promotion process.
Revisiting this idea now, I see that listing one’s accomplishments can be done simply for oneself. A tool for reflection. It is rewarding to see and know that one has accomplished something. Such a list can be a vital part of a feedback loop that inspires perseverance and confidence in the ability to continue to accomplish and contribute in meaningful ways.
I did accomplish a lot in 2011, come to think of it. I stayed afloat in the “tough economy,” probably by never accepting the agreement (for myself) that the economy was tough. I kept telling myself that some people thrive in tough economies, and some people go belly-up when the overall economy is booming. So “flotation” is a matter of persistence over time, and directed and strategic actions, taken daily. That is an accomplishment.
But when I think about the good I have done this year, where I shine, and instances where I feel proud of myself, I’m now in the realm of intangibles. I was a loving and supportive partner. I enjoyed the hell out of my adult children. I created warm and hospitable environments at home and in public, for humans and felines. I held a beloved dying pet in my arms as she was euthanized.
The common quality shared by the items in this short list is love, and perhaps friendship, and loyalty. I don’t always agree with my friends, I stand my ground, and sometimes my partner and my friends must feel profoundly irritated by me. But I don’t think there’s ever a doubt that I am there for them, and that I will be there.
How would you answer these questions for yourself? Please leave a comment.
[I'll be writing daily -- ish -- each day in December, as part of #resound11 and #reverb11. Join us here.}