"I ran a marathon."
"I traveled to 6 countries on my vacation."
"I got tenure."
"I earned more this year than last."
"I built an app."
"I photographed the family reunion."
"I served soup at the mission."
"I wrote a book."
The things in Group 1 are accomplishments. The things in Group 2 are contributions.
Most accomplishments enrich the self.
But most contributions enrich others first, the self second.
This distinction is, to be sure, a bit of a blunt instrument; certainly some accomplishments can prepare you to make contributions. If you learn to fish, you can teach someone to fish. If you climb a mountain, the confidence you gain can be an inspiration to others.
But I say to you: The next time you get down on yourself, feeling you haven't accomplished enough in life, stop and consider your contributions. Then see how you feel.
And let that guide you going forward, whether you're prioritizing today's to-do list or setting goals for the rest of your life.
[Photo info: I took this picture in New York City in April, 2013.]
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