“Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.” – Unknown
Recently, I took a weekend course with a friend. It’s a course I’ve taken a few times before and always found impactful (which is why I keep going back!) but for my friend, it was the first time that she’d taken it so I was really interested to see her reaction.
As the weekend unfolded, there were plenty of “a-ha” moments, both during the sessions and during the conversations we had outside of the seminar room. On the last night, as we were reflecting on everything we’d experienced over the weekend, my friend paused and said, “you know, when you look at some of the other people in the room, it makes you realize just how far we’ve come over the past few years, and how much we have that others don’t.” As we chatted about what she’d said, we realized that, in being focused solely on what we wanted to achieve and what we needed to change or implement in order to get there, it hadn't even occurred to us to take a step back and focus on how far we’d already come.
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The path to more growth
One of the critical components of successful goal setting is recognizing your progress and celebrating your accomplishments. Paying attention to each step of the journey and celebrating as you reach each milestone builds your sense of personal success and motivates you to continue with your journey. Over the weekend, we had made a point of comparing our journeys and achievements to the people in the room who had accomplished more than we had in order to inspire us to achieve more. However, by putting our focus for the weekend solely on growth and what we wanted to accomplish, we hadn’t put any real energy into appreciating everything that we already had.
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Often in life, we find ourselves focusing on what’s missing rather than what actually exists. We focus on what we need to change about our situation and we forget to pause and consider all the good things we have that don’t need to be changed at all. We set goals for the income level we want to attain or the material things that we want to accumulate but, as we start to achieve those goals, we switch our focus to the next goal and forget to appreciate our current good fortune. Gratitude can be a very powerful catalyst for achieving success but it’s something, that in the busyness of our everyday lives, we often forget about.
As the conversation continued, we deliberately focused on how much things had changed for the better in different areas of our lives over the past 6 months, 12 months, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years ago. Recognizing how much our lives had changed, how much we'd learned and how our own efforts had contributed to our different successes reinforced the belief that we can achieve the goals we've set for the next 3-5 years. Suddenly, accomplishing those goals seemed a little easier because, if we'd achieved difficult things before then it seemed more likely that we could do it again.
Reflect on your successes
This week, why not take a look back over your own journey? Spend some time reminding yourself of everything in your life that’s changed for the better, and then invest a little time in appreciating how far you’ve come. Here are some questions to get you started:
- What progress have you made in your career? How has that benefited you?
- How has your financial situation improved? How does that make you feel?
- Who are the people in your life who matter the most to you? How has your relationship with them improved over time?
- What have you learned? Have you taken courses, learned from a mentor or your own experiences? How has this impacted your life?
- What new habits have you created? How have those improved your life?
- What obstacles have you overcome? How is your life different as a result?
- What experiences or opportunities have you taken advantage of that have had an impact on your life today?
- What have you done that has made a difference in the lives of others?
Spending some time feeling good about everything that you’ve accomplished is a powerful exercise. Often, we confuse acknowledging our accomplishments with bragging or arrogance but there's a big difference. People who brag about their accomplishments do so to cover up their own insecurities and put others down in the process. Acknowledging your own successes just means owning who you are and channeling that understanding into creating an even better version of yourself. Whether you choose to chat about success with a friend or just pat yourself quietly on the back doesn't matter. Both are equally powerful, and you may be surprised at the impact counting your successes has on your mood and your motivation.