Howdy, howdy! A friend recently sent me a questionnaire she received from a career coach, so that I too could experience the equal parts torture and enlightenment (her words). I fully admit that I’ve never been able to take things like this seriously. My answers always range from sarcastic to literal (and occasionally both). For instance, one of the questions is “what would you do if you knew you could not fail?” My initial reaction was “Walk! No, wait… telekinesis! No… take over the world. That’s my final answer.” I mean, if I can’t fail, why not aim big? But anyway, one of the questions actually managed to get to me: “What accomplishments must, in your opinion, occur during your lifetime so that you will consider your life to have been satisfying and well lived—a life of few or no regrets?” So, I thought I’d answer it here since I don’t know what else to ramble about today.
I suppose this is the kind of question where people write down things like having kids or becoming a CEO of some big company or founding a charity or whatever, which are all wonderful goals to have, but I don’t think they’re musts. I actually don’t believe any accomplishment is a must in order to lead a fulfilling life. For me, that kind of thinking is sad. I mean, do I hope to publish a bunch of books and become a famous author? Hell yes. If I die tomorrow without achieving those goals, does that make my life any less well lived? No. I’ll be dead. I won’t care about that kind of unfinished business. So, why should I put that kind of pressure on myself while I’m alive? If I fail, I fail. It’ll be disappointing, but ultimately, it doesn’t make my whole life unsatisfying.
The accomplishment itself is just the reward at the end of a very long journey. I believe that journey, with all its little setbacks as well as its forward momentum, is more important than being able to point at a finished project and say “look what I did!” Don’t get me wrong, achieving a goal feels great, but when you look back at it, you remember the path you took to get there more than the moment of completion. At least, I do. As long as the good parts outweigh the bad and as long as I know I’m trying, then I consider my life a success whether I have anything to show for it or not.
As far as regrets go, I think they’re useless and that’s probably what bugged me the most about the question. I’m not going to have a bunch of regrets simply because I fail to accomplish my goals. If I’m trying my best, why would I regret that? I suppose when most of the things you would change about your past are out of your control, it puts all potential regrets in perspective. Are there things I wish I could’ve done differently? Yeah. Would I have actually done them differently? No, because then I wouldn’t become the person I am now. Plus, my experiences that led me to those decisions would be the same, so the likelihood of me making different choices even if I had a do-over are slim to none. So why worry about it at all? Regrets change nothing.
I guess maybe I’m weird to not worry about big accomplishments. Or maybe it’s part of the whole cripple privilege thing that I can focus on other things without people judging me and making me feel like I’m wrong (not that I’d care what they thought anyway). Or maybe I just worry more about the every day stuff than I should. But to me, being happy, enjoying life, and knowing that I’m trying my best are more important than actual success (not that accomplishments aren’t exciting and fulfilling). What about you? How would you answer the question?