April 2018 Newsletter
Hello, and an abundant April to you!
Noticing small improvements
Welcome, or welcome back, to my newsletter.
Today's issue is about appreciating minor gains,
instead of waiting for a big triumph to know you're moving forward.
Notice the glee on the child's face at learning to walk!
He's conquering a new skill, and proud of himself. He's not
thinking "I'll probably fall down after a couple of steps --
I can't do this right!". He accepts his current rudimentary
level of ability, while still wanting to improve it. He's not
wasting any of his energy worrying about not being perfect yet.
How often do we measure ourselves by whether we've reached the finish
line yet? The reunion is 4 months away, and you've lost 20 pounds,
but still can't fit into that outfit, so feel like a failure.
And you are tempted to have some cake! Obviously this isn't helpful,
and while it may be delicious in the moment, you'll feel worse
about yourself afterwards.
Appreciating your small or partial successes is also a great way to
help yourself be in the moment, right here, right now. This is
not automatic for many people in this busy rushing-forward modern
culture. The baby in the first picture above is not regretting
that he isn't a teenager, learning to drive his first car! He's
fully immersed in what he's doing, and loving it, proud of himself.
This picture of kids just wanting to get to their destination on a long drive,
not appreciating the journey at all, reminds me of how we
can make it harder for ourselves. Celebrating small accomplishments,
milestones on the way to our big goal, can help. Maybe you
used to start an argument with your spouse a few times a week,
from feeling over-tired and like you need more help. You've been
trying to shift this, and realize the spat you had this morning
is the first in almost a month! Good for you -- congratulate
yourself for the progress. No, you're not "there" yet, and you're
not where you were either.
Being proud of yourself for your progress has gotten a bad
rap, to me. You can always find someone who does it better
or faster or learned more quickly than you did, so being all
puffed-up with how great you are isn't being honest with
yourself, and is just asking to have your balloon punctured
-- no one likes a braggart. Yet heartfelt self-congratulation
at reaching even a small goal can increase your confidence,
and give you the fuel to keep going forward. Tell yourself
"Good job! Well done!" and mean it. Then take the next step.
The Beverly Sills quote above reminds us that we usually don't get
to a big important goal in a single speedy step. She was a famous
opera singer who I'm sure spent hours and hours practicing, not
expecting to move forward in her career without doing the work.
There may be no shortcuts to wherever you want to go yourself.
And you can appreciate the small successes along the way, and
enjoy the journey instead of waiting until you're "there" to be
happy. This way the learning and growth will be even more satisfying,
and you'll have a lot more fun.
To read an article about appreciating small improvements in
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Enjoy the start of your April.
I'll write again in a few weeks. Take care!