Over the years I have accumulated a number of medals, trophies, plaques, certificates, etc... but I look at them and then I think about what I did to achieve them. To tell you the truth some things are just not that significant and just by virtue of participation led to certain 'medals'.
I've cycled from London to Southend and London to Brighton (twice - once in the dark) and I have got a medal for my troubles, but was it challenging? Did I really feel fulfilled? I've 'won' a number of medals from dragon boat racing, but nothing of significant 'value' in the sport.
I look back at the things I have done and certain things that have led to a 'medal' of sorts are few and far between. My first major certificate I remember obtaining was a 'Gold Certificate' in a National maths test where you scored points for correct answers and lost points for incorrect answers... I got over 90% score. It took me by surprise but it was my own accomplishment and one that I cannot remember clearly doing, but remember the day I had to walk up in assembly to collect my certificate. It was a 'big thing' apparently. 5 people out of 90 got 'gold'.
Other significant wins have been in Rugby 7s tournaments where my team mates and I fought for each other and played the best we had played ever to win a couple of tournaments. It was pretty special... and although I have plaques to show for it, I don't need them for me to remember those two days.
Then came the most significant achievement so far... passing my driving test. I know it's not a big deal. Everyone who learns to drive will pass one day, but it has made the biggest difference in my life. I would not know what to do if I cannot drive in UK.
My degree was a bit disappointing in that I had no interest in it for my own personal satisfaction, but more for my parents. However my Masters was completely different and I took a year away from friends, family and relationships to finish it. It was tough, but totally worth it.
After this I was a bit lost... what other challenges do I have left in life? I found it in the form of the Himalayas and Everest Base Camp. Again it was out of pure will and determination that got me to the top and back again. I can't really describe how it felt and what it meant to me, but it was amazing.
The latest sense of personal achievement comes in the form of leading my dragon boat team to significant success over a race season. I didn't know I had it in me, but I delivered the best I could and I feel proud of what I did.
Along the way there are a number of things that I have 'lost' and failed in... and those were significant lessons to learn in life. Then there are other less important or carry less in value in my mind... but people looking in will only see the shimmer of medals. Never will they realise the importance of personal achievement that requires no trinkets to give a sense of self satisfaction.
In 6-7 weeks time I am planning on going to Coast Rica to volunteer at a turtle conservation centre. Will I get a medal or trinket for my participation... probably not, but I know I will feel a greater sense of achievement and satisfaction because of the experience.
Things of importance will always stay in our minds. We will never forget the moments we feel proudest, nor will we forget the moments where we let ourselves down. Both serve as a purpose to drive us to make the right decisions in life and reach personal milestones that will give us our version of success.