An interesting dynamic emerges when you’re an intensely goal-oriented person: you achieve a goal, feel a moment of satisfaction, and then move on to the next goal. Generally speaking, achievers are served by this tendency. I’m prone to this kind of, focused action, and forward motion. It’s helpful in many areas of life – building a business, losing large amounts of weight, completing large personal projects.
But there’s a big problem with this way of being. You forget to pat yourself on the back. Granted, I’m an INTJ who has perfectionist tendencies. I’m frequently characterized as being too hard on myself (and sometimes others too). At the core of it, I am passionate, ambitious, focused, and driven. But the spirit needs affirmation in order to press on day after day. It’s easy to forget why we’re doing what we do or what we’re chasing. The ambition becomes a character trait for its own sake rather than a means to an end.
Last December, I sat on the edge of my bed contemplating the year. Altogether, it was a decent year, but it felt like it wasn’t that great. My heart felt heavy reflecting on the year. I decided to make a list of the things I achieved and the progress I made. When I wrote everything down, it turned out that I actually had a great year. I successfully completed multiple projects. I earned more money than the year before. I developed new friendships with smart, interesting people. I achieved many of the goals I had set for myself. In scanning the list and reflecting on things that happened as early as January, I realized that I hadn’t stopped to give myself a pat on the back for the things I had done.
And then I reminded myself that life – even when we’re busy building and growing and evolving – is meant to be fully experienced. We can’t wait for some elusive point in the future to give ourselves props or choose to be happy. Life is unbelievably short, and we never know when our time will be up. This year, as I reach for new heights, I want to remember to be grateful for the journey behind me and the ground beneath me. Living a life of purpose is a cause for celebration. I’ve decided to make the festivities a daily occurrence.