“Do something now that will make the person you’ll be tomorrow proud.” ~Unknown
A while back someone asked me to list my greatest accomplishments for 2012.
As I racked my brain, I thought of a few professional achievements that made me feel proud, but as for the top accomplishment, I kept coming back to the same thing: my sister’s wedding.
I wasn’t the planner, and I didn’t pay for the whole thing, but I was a big part of it.
Even though I live 3,000 miles away, I acted as her Maid of Honor, helped plan her bridal shower, planned a fun two-day Bachelorette party that meshed with her unique personality and interests, and traveled to Massachusetts on numerous occasions to be part of it all.
I felt excited to recognize this as my top accomplishment for a couple of reasons. First, it reminded me of how much I appreciate my family.
Particularly as someone who spent a lot of time isolated, I now believe my relationships are priorities—and I’m proud that I show it in action.
But also, it reminded me that accomplishments don’t necessarily need to entail productivity, promotion, sales, or profits. Sometimes the most fulfilling things we do in this world bring little recognition, yield no monetary results, and come without fanfare.
And yet, they still can mean so much and feel so completely satisfying.
I’d by lying if I said I don’t enjoy growing and expanding through my work, but I’ve finally realized that what I have to offer—to others and myself—far exceeds the fruits of my paid labor.
In a fast-paced, competitive world, where it’s easy to feel we’re never doing enough, it’s gratifying to recognize just how much we do to honor the people and things that matter to us.
With that in mind, I decided to create a short list of accomplishments that we may sometimes overlook.
If you’re looking to do something that will make you feel proud—or perhaps looking for a reminder that you already do so much—one of these ideas may resonate with you:
Your Relationships with Others
1. Ask someone who is struggling if there’s any way you can lighten their load and then follow through.
2. Show up for someone who needs help—moving, packing, or doing anything that’s easier with an extra set of hands.
3. Plan, organize, or assist with a party or event for someone you love and/or value.
4. Support someone in a fundraiser, online of offline.
5. Respond calmly to a tough situation to keep a small issue from escalating into something much bigger.
6. Speak up for someone who otherwise might not have a voice, or may be too scared to use it.
7. Volunteer your skills and talents to help someone, whether that means proofreading a friend’s resume or cleaning their kitchen.
8. Offer a random act of kindness to someone without expecting anything in return.
9. Give something of yours to someone else if you think they need it more than you.
10. Point someone in the direction of a resource, group, or event that could be life-changing for them.
Your Relationship with Yourself
11. Set a clear boundary in a relationship that lacks them, thereby taking good care of yourself.
12. Follow through on a commitment to yourself, whether it’s to exercise, eat healthy foods, or to try something new.
13. Replace a negative, self-defeating thought with a positive, self-affirming one—and believe it.
14. Stick with something you’re tempted to quit knowing that what matters most is your commitment to the journey.
15. Improve how you deal with criticism, receiving it with an open-mind, without self-judgment.
16. Trust and follow your intuition instead of depending on someone else to define what’s best for you.
17. Forgive yourself for a mistake, creating more space in your mind to see, enjoy, and appreciate what’s right in front of you.
18. Choose a healthy coping mechanism to deal with emotional pain—like deep breathing or taking a walk—instead of doing something self-destructive.
19. Honor your own needs, creating more balance in your life.
20. Allow yourself to get into the zone with something you enjoy instead of overwhelming yourself with persistent mental chatter.
Your Relationship with the World
21. Purchase consciously to support businesses that follow ethical practices.
22. Become conscious of your environmental impact, and try one of these 70 ways to save the planet.
23. Make a microloan through an organization like Kiva to help and empower people around the globe.
24. Recycle. (You can recycle a lot more than you may think!)
25. Pay it forward. Do something kind for someone and tell that person to return the favor to someone else.
26. Give old clothes to charity instead of throwing them away.
27. Volunteer your time to help people in need. (Or do something simpler, like using the game at FreeRice.com to help end hunger.)
28. Donate marrow to someone whose life depends on it. (You can start by registering on marrow.org.)
29. Do some research on your own to find a charity organization that you believe in and then tell three people about it.
30. Follow Gandhi’s advice and “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Do you have anything to add to the list?
Photo by Jo Munday