When my 17-month-old son unlocks a new achievement, his father and I clap and cheer like mad. Right now he is learning to put things back in order after he untidies them. He has also recently started pointing to his ears, nose, hands, and so on when we ask him to. Each time he does, Darren and I explode in smiles and raucous applause.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we celebrated our own victories with even a small fraction of that enthusiasm?
It’s not like I haven’t had any wins of my own this week. I remembered to order and wrap a baby shower gift in advance of the shower and then show up for it. I had a very productive Sunday that included brunch, errands, and pizza with friends — and managed to keep my son from melting down along the way. I’m approaching another victory right this minute, as I finish my seventh blog post this week for the Your Turn Challenge.
But am I filled with elation and pride at these small but meaningful achievements? Hardly.
They tend to get swept away largely unnoticed — because I just move right on to the next task demanding my attention, or because I don’t allow myself to count them as victories at all. Instead of patting myself on the back for a job well done, I think, OK, what’s next? or That wasn’t so hard. Why didn’t you do it a long time ago?
I hope that all of us who completed the Your Turn Challenge can take a moment to sincerely congratulate ourselves on our collective win. With all of the commitments and distractions in our lives, it’s not easy to post every day, even for just one week. Most nights, I started writing after my son was in bed and finished all of the writing, editing, submitting, and social media sharing just before I went to bed myself. I’m ending the week feeling even more tired than usual. But it was important to prove to myself that I could follow through on this writing commitment and build the momentum I need to finish my book. I’m proud of myself for succeeding.
For a time, I was writing down victories and gratitudes like these in my journal every night before bed. It was a wonderful habit. Even on the toughest days, I could recognize that I’d made progress on a several fronts and was grateful for at least a few things that had happened.
A quick and easy way to share victories and gratitudes is at the dinner table. Last night, after our son had run us ragged and we were eating a late dinner of pasta and red wine, Darren asked me what victories and gratitudes I’d had that day.
I was in such a low-energy state that I was quiet for a few moments while I wracked my brain for examples. “Well,” I said, “We found a pet sitter.” Twirling my pasta on my fork, I thought some more. “We had a nice, long walk in the sun. We also caught up with a lot of our friends at the baby shower.” I smiled through my fatigue. It felt good to end the day recognizing its high notes.
Darren and I sometimes celebrate small successes with a high five, like when we get in and out of the supermarket smoothly, or clear the yard of leaves. When I remember to do it, I’ll pause after a little victory and just sit and smile to myself for a moment. Whatever works for you — a happy dance or a round of applause, for example — you deserve to recognize your wins, every single one of them, no matter how small.
So let’s raise a glass to all of us who have completed the My Turn Challenge this week. Congratulations to us on a job well done. Cheers!