In today’s world of viral TikTok moments, Instagram influencers, and oversharing on social media, It’s important to remember the progress we’ve made in our lives. The sum of our life experiences up to this exact moment makes us unique. We all have a story to tell, filled with highs, lows, and some boring stuff in between.
Humans have the tendency to remember negative experiences more vividly than positive ones. Laura Carstensen, a psychology professor at Stanford University, explains that this tendency is based on our evolution:
It’s more important for people, for survival, to notice the lion in the brush than it is to notice the beautiful flower that’s growing on the other side of the way,
How often have you laid awake at night as your brain cycles through all your life’s mistakes, in painstaking detail? Do you have a cringe-worthy moment from when you were a teenager, just trying to look cool in front of your friends? I sure do.
It’s human nature to latch onto these negative experiences and carry them with us throughout our lives, but time has a way of making those moments seem meaningless later on.
I can now laugh about that cringe moment in high school. The time I totally botched a presentation in speech class made for a great story later on in my career. Those awkward high school memories are ephemeral, but they seem so permanent at the time.
It’s important to take time to celebrate your successes as they happen. Make those moments memorable, if for nothing else so you can look back later and remember them. Over time your positive memories will start to push some of the negative ones out of your brain space.
My key to a happy life is celebrating the good times and finding ways to do more of them in my life. So let’s talk about celebration.
Take Time for Celebration
After I’ve achieved a goal I’m guilty of moving the goalposts and not spending time celebrating my successes. Most of my goals as an adult are career-related, like earning a certain salary, reaching a specific title, or landing that big client.
There’s always something greater to chase. Making $50,000/year seems like a ton of money when you’re in high school, but when you start making that much you can’t help but imagine what it’s like to make six figures or more.
Landing that big client seems amazing until you realize you’ve set a new base level of expectations. You’re now that person that can land big deals. So now you have to get more of them. The next few deals don’t feel as special.
But wait, don’t move on just yet. Landing that major client is a big deal.
Earning a certain salary amount is a big deal.
If you were to look back in time one year, 5 years, or 10 years, would the younger version of you ever imagine being in your current position?
High school Nick would have his mind blown if he would’ve known how my life is at 30. Hell, college-aged Nick would feel the same way.
What were your goals one to two years ago? If you wrote them down, go back and reference them. Visually look at them to trigger your brain into remembering why you set them in the first place.
Did you achieve your goals? Maybe you smashed a couple and totally whiffed on the rest. That’s exactly what happens with me every year.
Celebrate the goals you did achieve and use that celebration to motivate you to achieve the next goal, and the next one.
What are your goals for this year?
With New Years celebrations long behind us, people around the world have signed up for gym memberships and most of them have stopped going by now. But there are always a few people who stick with it.
You can be one of those people. The difference between being a dreamer and being a doer is action. Get up and put in the work.
How are your New Years resolutions coming? Go back and look at them. Notice there’s a theme here:
- Write your goals down
- Reference them often
- If needed, revise and adapt them
My goal this month was to publish new content every day. So far I’ve done exactly that, and the month is almost half over. Guess what? It’s been really hard. Some days I don’t want to write at all, I’ve had writer’s block for the first time, I’ve written some crap about why Christmas in July is terrible.
That’s ok. Every terrible post I write is practice. You have to be terrible at something before you can be good, and you have to be good before you can be great.
You can be great. Just put in the work.
Chances are if you’re reading this you’ve already taken a step in the right direction.