What is an “accomplished life,” and how do you create such a life for yourself?
In short, it’s a life that makes you feel proud, fulfilled, content, and inspired. When you’re on your deathbed, you’ll be able to look back on your life with few, if any, regrets.
Sure, nobody’s life is perfect, but if you’ve lived an “accomplished life” (whatever that means for you), then you’ll die happy.
As Frank Sinatra famously put in My Way:
Regrets, I've had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.
One thing we can all agree on is that “Ol’ Blue Eyes” certainly lived an accomplished life.
Era of Social Media
In this era of social media, reality TV, and 24-hour news cycles, you’re bombarded with false messages of what your life should be.
If you’re not the next great tech entrepreneur, Youtube celebrity, or American Idol finalist, then your life is a failure.
The problem is that this is an extremely distorted view of reality. Most people live normal uneventful lives, but that’s not what they present to the world...
What you see on social media: Photos from an amazing trip to Paris; Congrats on kid’s winning soccer goal; or Announcement about a great new job!
What you don’t see on social media: Photos of an argument with spouse; Congrats on kid flunking math class; or Announcement about not being able to make the mortgage payment.
So how do you put all of that into perspective and live your version of an accomplished life?
An “Accomplished Life”
Fortunately (or unfortunately - depending on how you look at it), I’ve already had a couple brushes with death. First there was my pneumonia that put me in ICU for two weeks, and more recently a case of Dengue Fever while traveling in Thailand.
These experiences, while harrowing, have given me a chance to reflect on life. I can step back from all the things that might've seemed important (money, job, politics, etc), but are really inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
And now I can more easily focus on the much deeper aspects of what really matters in life. Things like family, friends, nature, and art. These are some of the things that give life true meaning.
Despite what you may have been led to believe, an accomplished life is not about becoming wealthy, famous, or powerful.
I’m not saying that becoming wealthy, famous, or powerful are necessarily bad things. But they shouldn’t be what you strive for in life. If you become wealthy while living your accomplished life, then that’s just icing on your cake.
I’ve carved out four distinct keys to describe an accomplished life for myself - feel free to use these or create your own...
1- Maximize Your Potential
I look at your potential as having three components -- physical, mental, & spiritual. Practice improving all three of these areas of your life until you find your furthest edge.
Push your body with motion & exercise, feed your mind with as much knowledge as it can digest, and discover what spirituality is for you (through meditation, prayer, nature, etc).
2- Build, Create, Design
Put things out into the world that are interesting, beautiful, artistic, moving, provocative, thought-provoking, and/or useful for society.
You can do this in so many ways: writing articles or books, drawing or painting, making music, designing websites, or building houses.
3- Live your own life
Don’t live your life based on what others think is best for you. Figure out what your unique life purpose is and follow your own path. Remember Sinatra’s musical refrain, I did it my way.
The number one regret of the dying is “I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
4- Love others
You don’t have to be wealthy or powerful to put love out into the world. Whether or not you get married or have children, you can still love whoever happens to be in your life. The more love you put out in the world, the better it will be when you’re gone.
As the Beatles said in their final song The End, "In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." That was their closing statement. It’s the last lyric on the last album they recorded.
Anyone can truly have an accomplished life — it just requires making some effort.
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.
Take Frank’s advice and occasionally bite off more than you can chew. Don’t wait until you’re on your deathbed to make your life count!