Look How Far You’ve Come

Last week, we made New Year’s resolutions. And now it’s the time of year to feel horrid about ourselves as, not even two weeks into the New Year, we are already failing. At least I am.


Everyone talks about what a fast-paced, fast-food lifestyle Americans live. And nowhere is that more evident than in our goal-setting. We devote a time every year to setting new goals, but no time to reflecting on our past successes.

As a mental health counselor, I teach about the importance of congratulating ourselves on past successes. Because there’s nothing to give us motivation to succeed at our New Year’s goals like looking back at how we’ve succeeded in the past.

For some people, the high-profile CEOs with perfect children and a dog who never stains the carpet in their million-dollar home, counting successes is easy. Others of us might have to dig back into the recesses of our brains to find a success.

Several months ago, I asked the question, “What are you proud of yourself for?” at the most unlikely of places–a mental health facility for those recovering from dual diagnoses of both severe mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, along with substance abuse. I was in the living room area of the house with about fifteen clients, and when I asked the question, I got blank stares.

Within a few minutes, though, my clients began to talk. Smiles started to replace vacant gloom as men and women started talking about that time they ran a 5k years ago, the child who they were there for at least for the first few years, or the job they used to have. As my clients talked about past successes, the most beautiful light came into their eyes–the light of hope.

So, if your New Year’s resolutions are already faltering, and you’re baking a pan of brownies today rather than doing that two hour workout in the gym you promised yourself (yes that’s me), take a moment to reflect. What are you proud of yourself for? What in your life do you look back at and think, wow, I really accomplished something there?

If you’d like to comment and share one of your successes, I’d love to hear it.