“Focus on how far up the mountain you have climbed, rather than looking at how far you have got left to go” (quote by…me!)
When was the last time you took time to celebrate your many, many, many accomplishments? We spend a lot of time obsessing about the future and what we still don’t have and are lacking. Whether it is more money, more holidays, a bigger house, faster car, flatter tummy, longer hair...OK you get it. We can very often get stuck in a cycle of planning to be happy “I will be happy when…(fill in the blank)”. But what’s wrong with today?! The chances are if we cannot feel content today, in the present moment, we will not feel any better or happier when we get to the “when”.
Maybe you have experienced this yourself. I know I have. In remember in completing my undergraduate degree in Psychology I was determined to get my Master’s Degree and Chartership status in the minimum time of 3 years. This was no easy task. I told myself “I will be happy when I reach chartered status.”
I did it. And that was that. I quickly moved on and set the next goal. No acknowledgement. No “well done me” prize. Nothing. I didn’t take the time to celebrate my significant accomplishments. The result was I was subconsciously telling myself that my achievement and hard work didn’t matter at all and I still needed more in order to feel a sense of achievement. Subsequently, it was a real anti-climax and I started to feel demotivated.
Everyone’s level of success is different. For some clients I have worked with the act of getting dressed and brushing their teeth is a success and should be acknowledged. For others it’s getting 1lb closer to their ideal weight. For me now, its staying healthy in body and mind, and staying cancer-free.
Celebrating our small, daily, wins that enable us to get up the mountain are just as valid. They keep us motivated, make us feel good and hep to release endorphins. This in turn makes us feel incredible and helps to reinforce the behaviour we want when faced with a new opportunity.
On the 12th May 2018 I completed the Moonwalk! 26.2miles in 7hr 14min. Through the night. For most people this is an achievement. For me, I can’t even explain what it means. To think that 2 years ago I couldn't climb the stairs. Completion of the walk was a reminder for me too, to look back on my own personal journey and see how far I've come. To look back and see how much of the mountain I have climbed. Sometimes, this can be more useful than to look up and see how far you still have to go.
Top Tips to Help you Acknowledge your Successes
1. Create an achievement journal. Get in to the practice of spending just a few minutes daily jotting down any successes of the day. Whatever they may be give yourself a “WOW”. We have started to incorporate a WOW dance in our household. We dance to Kyle’s WOW song and just dance! This energises my children as we dance, laugh and share each other’s wins for the day. Its all relative and for them it may be helping to tidy up or eat their meal with bottoms on seats! As your book fills with achievements it will be fun and satisfying to look back and reflect on all that you’ve learned and accomplished. A scrap book of notes, pictures and other pertinent information can also be useful.
2. Buy a Treat! Reward yourself with something special when you reach any milestones. Make the gift to yourself meaningful and congruent with the level of achievement. Giving yourself this recognition can be hugely motivating. I recently bought myself a lovely piece of jewellery that I had my eye on to celebrate the completion of the Moonwalk in London. A huge physical and emotional achievement for me. Now when I wear it reminds me just how far I have come following my own cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
3. Ask a friend or loved one. This can feel a bit uncomfortable at first but perhaps offer to return the favour. We can often be our worst critic and therefore it can be insightful to receive feedback from someone else who may have a clearer view of how you have grown and developed.
4. Recognise its about progress and not perfection. We all want to reach the top of the mountain. On our first attempt. And be finished. Done. However, it’s important to acknowledge that our lives are work in progress. We change and grow. Fall and adjust. This shapes who we are. This adds to our emotional resilience.
So, I urge you, whatever you are striving towards, to stop. And take time to do a WOW dance. Take the time to truly congratulate yourself on all that you have achieved so far. No matter how big or small. How fast or slow you are progressing. What’s counts is the progress itself.