I hope neither my parents, nor my old teachers are going to read this answer, as I just know they'd be disappointed by what I'm going to choose: Two wholly non-vocational things - staying married for 26 years, and bringing up my two kids to be (usually) nice people.
Coming from an extended family in which everyone has either never married, or has been married several times at least - for three generations - one of my main ambitions in life was always to create a stable family of my own.
I know it probably sounds old-fashioned, but I really think marriage is hard work, and that too many people who have children give up on theirs too easily, without thinking of the many negative effects divorce can have on kids, or how long-term those effects can be.
I'm obviously not criticising anyone who walks away from a violent or abusive relationship, here, though - as I absolutely believe that people in that sort of situation shouldn't stay in it for a moment longer than they have to.
Instead, I'm referring to those people who perhaps don't have a very realistic notion of marriage, or who believe it's possible to be ecstatically happy with the same person forever, and that there's something wrong if, occasionally, your husband or wife infuriates or bores you instead!
My daughter, who's a geneticist, tells me that we're actually biologically-programmed not to stay besotted with one particular person for longer than about 18 months - so, after that time has passed, other factors in the relationship need to come into play, if it is to survive.
Apparently, when we're madly in love, we are almost literally mad, and so we couldn't keep that level of obsession up for too long, without the rest of our lives starting to suffer.
I'm also hoping that saying that I'm proud of staying married for so long won't immediately bring down the curse of Hello magazine on my head, and ensure that I'm divorced by this time next year!
I'm no fan of Gwyneth Paltrow, but I rather liked something she said recently, when asked how her parents had stayed married for so long: That they had never both wanted to throw in the towel at the same time. I'm pretty sure she's onto something there.
Anyway, the reasons that I think that it's an achievement to live with someone else for so long are the personal qualities that this demands (of both parties):
- the ability to compromise
- the ability to put other people first, some of the time
- the ability to negotiate
- the ability to recognise what's worth fighting about, and what isn't
- tolerance of different opinions, or ways of living
- the ability to support someone else when they are having a hard time, or are unwell, or unhappy
- realism - about what to expect from other people, how much they can change, and whether it is reasonable to expect them to change at all - after all, you married them as they were!
As I mentioned, I'm also really proud of my children. Not the fact of having had them, per se - as, let's face it, that doesn't take any particular skill! - but having brought them up to adulthood, and still liking the people they have become (most of the time).
I'm proud of the fact that they are both bright, interesting and funny, loyal to their friends, lovers, and their employers, hard-working, and yet not afraid to speak their minds.
I'm also proud of the fact that they know how to behave towards others (if not always to their parents!), and don't see the world as owing them a living. They're creative, articulate and make me laugh out loud on a regular basis.
So that's it. I'm sorry, Mum and Dad, and all my old teachers, that there's no mention of Nobel prizes here, or chairmanships of multinational companies, but my marriage and my kids really are the two achievements that I'm proudest of. (Does this make me sound as if I'm living in the 1940s? I hope not.)