Fall is my favorite season; I love the colors, the scents, the feeling of something magical happening. Even living in Southern California, with trees that get the pleasure of just staying green, I still feel the crispness of change in the air.
Fall is harvest time – the perfect time to reflect on our internal growth this year and dream of the seeds we might plant in the future. This week we’re looking back at our growth for the year.
To do this, I love this idea from Cheryl Richardson’s book, Life Makeovers – it’s a way of taking some time to reflect on how you have changed and grown in the last year. Her idea is to list out twenty five things you are proud of having accomplished over the last year. She traditionally does this at New Year’s, but there’s nothing stopping us from doing this exercise whenever we please.
This is an exercise I find very easy – maybe it’s because I have low standards for celebrating accomplishments; for example, I often give myself huge credit for achieving the herculean task of doing the dishes. However, I’ve found that not everyone has my willingness to be proud of accomplishing daily household chores. Some of you will think this exercise is insanely difficult.
For instance, I was out for a celebratory birthday lunch with a group of friends from work, and, being me, I asked whether my friend had done this very exercise that I’m suggesting we try this week. I was with five people, and every single one of them told me this was nearly impossible. Maybe they could come up with five things, they insisted, but twenty-five was just outrageous. No one could be expected to come up with that many things to be proud of in just one year.
They were close to yelling, so I shut up and sang happy birthday, not mentioning that I could have made a fairly decent list for any of them just from hearing about their lives in the course of working together. This has stuck with me since then; it makes me sad that my friends aren’t seeing all of the amazing things they are doing and giving themselves credit for it.
So if you’re like me, just go for it – list out your twenty-five items, then (naturally!) celebrate having completed this fun way to look back over your year. However, if you’re more like my dear coworkers, I’ve got a different type of challenge for you. Pick the number of things you are willing to be proud of for your year – maybe five is a comfortable number for you – then name them.
Next, take a look at the things you’re proud of – what do they have in common? Did each involve grueling effort on your part? Would each task be something that you could tell a stranger and they would be impressed? Do they have a certain theme – only emotional breakthroughs, only financial gains, only physical achievements, etc.? What can you learn about yourself from answering these questions?
If you’re willing, my next challenge is to choose something every day this week to be proud of – it can be tiny, like:
- “I made it to work on time.”
- “I didn’t yell at that terrible driver who cut me off.”
- “I ate several vegetables with my cheeseburger.”
If you need inspiration, think of how you talk with a young child – you celebrate nearly everything they do. Maybe try playing around with that idea this week – seeing yourself as a child, praising yourself for every accomplishment, no matter the size.
If you are like my friends at work, you may be rolling your eyes right now. I get it – I think, as a culture, we’re expected only to celebrate the really big things. If we don’t have universally-socially-acceptable accomplishments, we better shut up and not announce we’re proud of anything, lest we look arrogant or foolish. If you’re not willing to try the daily-accomplishment plan for yourself, I’d like to invite you to find something to celebrate about someone else every day this week. For major bonus points, tell them why you’re proud or impressed by them and why.
Want to be really bold? Leave a comment below and share with us an item from your list. Wishing you a very celebratory week! I’m going to go celebrate having finished this post. 🙂