Leonard Woolf sums it up

I’ve been skipping around in the volumes of Leonard Woolf’s autobiography (ordered used from various Amazon sellers), charmed by his starchy octogenarian British chattiness. Here’s an arresting bit, especially in consideration of one’s own legacies of commission and omission:

Looking back at the age of eighty-eight over the fifty-seven years of my political work in England, knowing what I aimed at and the results, meditating on the history of Britain and the world since 1914, I see clearly that I have achieved practically nothing. the world today [1968] and the history of the human anthill during the last fifty-seven years would be exactly the same as it is if I had played pingpong instead of sitting on committees and writing books and memoranda. I have therefore to make the rather ignominious confession to myself and to anyone who may read this book that I must have in a long life ground through between 150,000 and 200,000 hours of perfectly useless work… (pg 158)

Woolf does conclude the chapter on a less bleak note:

…in a wider context, though all that I tried to do politically was completely futile and ineffective and unimportant, for me personally it was right and important that I should do it, even though at the back of my mind I was well aware that it was ineffective and unimportant. To say this is to say that I agree with what Montaigne, the first civilized modern man, says somewhere: “It is not the arrival, it is the journey which matters”.
(The Journey Not the Arrival Matters, pg 172)