Did you make the most of [whatever is ending right now?]

Sometimes we reach the end of something (the year, the Thrive session, the term, the month, the project) and when we expect to feel accomplishment, we instead feel disappointment. It's hard to look back and see all the places where, if things had been different, we could have excelled, we could have made the most of something, we could have gone farther and faster than we did. We focus on all the opportunities we missed, and it does not feel good, especially if others are posting about how wonderful it feels to completed something.

I get it. I feel that way! A lot! When I sit down to do my end of month, end of quarter, and end of year reviews, I first see all the things I didn't finish. All the habits I tried to start, all the goals I didn't accomplish, all the ways I fell short. My perfectionism is well documented (here and here) and there is definitely always an element of setting expectations that aren't realistic. I set impossible goals and then beat myself up when I don't meet them, and when I try and consciously set realistic goals, I'm only moderately successful. Somewhere, deep down, I set these goals because I believe that I need the push, that I'm not at my potential yet, that I can (and should!) be better.

So I've learned to do the impossible: hold two contradictory truths in my head at the same time.

1) I, minute to minute, tried to make the best decisions I could regarding the conditions (physical and mental health, life circumstances, whatever) I was working with. I did my best with what I had.

2) There are some parts of my life that do not promote my best living and working conditions; there are still places where I can do better without sacrificing myself.

Or, put another way. I am proud of what I accomplish, and I can see ways where I can do better.

It is so hard to feel good about what you did do, while also not turning a blind eye to places where you can improve. It's hard to feel good about being partway. It's hard to feel good knowing that, actually, there is no real finish line. Life is always changing, we're always adjusting, but most importantly:

We are always growing.

So, when you approach your next period of evaluation, try and hold both views at once:

  • What went well? What do you feel proud of? What did you accomplish? Give yourself credit for what you did and what was going on when you did it.

  • What is your next step? What are one or two things you can work on to improve? What is one area that you would like to focus on growing, supporting, or starting?

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That's how you grow without guilt. You feel good about what you're doing even while you see the path to follow next. You give yourself credit, you show yourself compassion, you still see where you can improve. Make a done list. Remember all the challenges you overcome that didn't make your planner or your goal planning sessions. Find other ways to measure progress. Write three things that you love about your work or your project or yourself. Make a list of everything you're grateful for until you're out of ideas. Find the good even in the growth.