Lessons learned, experience gained

From the Archives

Originally published September 1, 2012

I’m nearing the end of a long stretch on a project I first undertook 16 months ago. I went in with few preconceived notions, and I leave with no misguided perceptions about the work. Still, there has been a nagging question in the back of my mind: What, if anything, have I accomplished in all this time? At first glance, I felt there was no accomplishment, no goals achieved, no new benchmarks reached.

Upon careful and thorough reflection, I’m walking away with some deep insights and other new gains. In fact, other questions surfaced during this introspection. What had I hoped to achieve when I first embarked on this new journey? What did I think could happen in a year? How much did I plan, and how much did I make up as I went along? Finally, how much of that planning was realistic to achieve in the allotted time?

These and other questions helped clarify several things most important to me: lifelong learning, constant challenge, and self-improvement. I learned as much about myself in this process as I did about the process itself. I’ve gained valuable new skills and deepened my understanding of key concepts. Finally, I’ve experienced a level of achievement invisible at the surface; rather, it has powerful undertones that shape the way I think about other current and upcoming projects. How have you used your experiences to clarify your goals and sense of achievement? Share in comments. Would love to hear about them.