It is easy, so easy to focus on the things that suck. The things that haven’t worked out the way that we’ve wanted. Our failures to check things off our to-do lists. Our failures to meet our own expectations.
I get it. I am not an optimist. I’m a realist that verges over into pessimist territory every once in awhile. And I’m a recovering perfectionist, which means that there are frequent moments where I indulge in beating myself up over perceived failures. Which turn into calling myself a failure.
Guess what, I’m not a failure. And neither are you. But in those moments when you’ve screwed up, not achieved a goal, have had someone treat you like crap, or are having a day in which everything is going wrong, it can certainly feel that way.
I have a challenge for you, inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Chelsea of The New Wifestyle. What if instead of focusing on the things that you haven’t done or the ways you’ve failed, you spent time reflecting on all the things that you have done, your accomplishments? The ones that you once thought impossible, like Chelsea did. The ones that you had to overcome things to achieve. The ones that make you immensely proud. The ones that you sometimes forget about because they they seem unimportant.
Think about it, what have you accomplished?
Last week I challenged myself to write a list of the things that I have accomplished. It was tough to get started, but after writing a couple I started to realize that I’ve accomplished a whole lot more then I realized.
Here are some of the questions I considered while I was writing:
What have you accomplished that is a reflection of values that you hold dear?
Is there anything that you’ve achieved that required you overcoming a lot of obstacles?
What are you most proud of in your personal life? your work life? your marriage?
What are some of the most adventurous things you’ve done?
What have you checked off your personal bucket list?
What have you accomplished that you once thought was impossible for you?
What would the people closest to you say are your accomplishments? (Ask them!)
Things to remember:
Toss comparison out of the window. This about your accomplishments, not how you think they measure up to everyone else’s. Everyone’s list will and should look different.
Don’t be hesitate to include things that may seem unworthy. If you are proud of it, it goes on the list, no matter how small or silly. Just because something may come easy or not even register as an accomplishment for someone else doesn’t mean that it can’t be one for you.
Remember your values and the things that you personally hold important in your life and how that is reflected in what you have acheived.
Here’s a couple of accomplishments that made it on to my list:
1. Finishing my master’s degree on time, even through a period of serious depression.
I overcame a lot of challenges during those months and it took a lot of mental and emotional effort to finish on time. Instead of giving up, I pushed myself to finish. And while my grades weren’t as high as the perfectionist in me wanted, I still accomplished what I set out to do. It took me a little while to re-frame my feelings about this and prioritize my accomplishment above my disappointments surrounding that time period, but I’m so glad I was able to.
2. Working through my anxiety and learning how to drive.
Learning how to drive would not be considered an accomplishment by most people, but it definitely is for me. Since it was something that I had a lot of anxiety about, I was in my twenties before I was able to conquer my fear of driving. I’m proud of myself for both learning the tools to manage my anxiety and now being able to not only tolerate but find joy in driving.
3. Buying all my cars with cash.
Managing my finances in a smart way has always been something that has been a priority for me. As a result of the desire to not acquire debt, I have made saving a priority. Because of the high value I place on financial security, I’m proud that I have been able to not have a car loan for either of the cars I owned myself and the car my husband and I bought together last year.
4. Sharing my love of creative writing and reading with dozens of children.
I have definitely had my frustrations over the years with the career part of my life, but I have made my own opportunities to teach kids how to have fun with writing and reading, which is a passion of mine. In the past I have presented workshops and summer camps at a number of locations that previously had no offerings in literacy or creative writing. I love thinking that I have fostered a love of writing and reading in some of those kids for years to come.
What accomplishments would make it on to your list?