Let's talk about winning

Runner winning a race. It's important to celebrate your wins and accomplishments - even if you don't think you deserve it.

Winning is getting a bad reputation. Winning is sometimes considered rude. It’s inconsiderate. It’s unfair. It’s unnecessarily pointing out the shortcomings of others. I suppose, if you really wanted to, you could make winning into a four letter word. But this is not about that kind of winning. It isn’t about demolishing your competition. It isn’t about doing the touchdown dance in the end zone. This is about the wins you have every day when you decide to eat foods that nourish you, when you sleep enough to feel rested, when you take the time for a walk and breathe in the fresh air. This is about those days when you actually feel pretty good. It's about those days when you don’t have to force a smile to a passer-by and when people ask you how you are, you can honestly say you’re doing well!

Our society tends to focus on the larger goals, the big ideas, the major shifts. We don’t always acknowledge the little steps that we have to take to reach those audacious destinations. Having a big picture view is great. It allows you to view the different parts of a major project, to see how things are coming together, and to identify shortcomings before they derail your progress. It’s important to view your goals from on high.

But its also important to take a look at our daily achievements and celebrate the little wins along the way.

Making major changes in your diet, your lifestyle, and the way you approach your health are significant projects. It seems simple to say ‘well, stop eating gluten, dairy, and soy and you’ll be okay.’ Putting that into practice is a lot harder than it sounds.

That’s why I want to talk to you about celebrating the wins along the way. The little things I mentioned above are worthy of acknowledgement. Maybe you don’t need to send yourself a present every time you have a day without gluten, but how would it make you feel if you just wrote that down in a gratitude journal at the end of the day?

Checklist for celebrating my daily wins and recoding how much I have accomplished

Maybe you have a little checklist for yourself (this is my favorite, and the one I do now) that has all your daily steps. You can see a sample of this short checklist to the left. When you get to the end of the day, you can look and see what awesomeness you accomplished and then go to bed knowing that you’re making progress. I make mine on sticky notes in my planner, but you could just as easily Write it in your planner or a blank journal. The point is to be able to see how often you are keeping to your goals. To celebrate that you did your thing more days than you didn't. Because really, if you didn't keep track, you wouldn't do it at all - and that's not winning.

(WARNINGthe checklist tactic has the potential for you to get all self-judgy and start criticizing yourself for NOT doing everything on the list. If you think you’ll fall into this criticism track, then please don’t use this method.)

The key to keeping going with any change is to recognize and acknowledge your progress. If you’re a student of the Old Testament, you’ll recall that in 1 Samuel, we have the story of the Ebenezer Stone. Ebenezer means ‘stone of help.’ As the Israelites traveled throughout the countryside, Samuel would place stones as a monument to their progress. He would place a stone and declare that ‘thus far, the Lord has helped us.’

Whether or not you subscribe to Old Testament teachings, the story is a powerful one of the importance of acknowledging progress in a long journey. There are many ways to do this, and I’d encourage you to find one that works for you. Maybe tie a new ribbon on your walking stick, put a pin on your jacket, add a bead to a necklace, write a page in your journal, add a little more to a painting or drawing that you’re using to capture your journey. Whatever speaks to you is the best way to do it.

And here’s my Ebenezer Stone power secret. It is those times when you feel you’ve accomplished the least, when you feel you’ve failed, that you most need your Ebenezer Stone.

Be kind to yourself. Celebrate your progress and acknowledge your efforts. You are making a difference, day by day.