I know that may sound strange. Usually, we think of endings as being sad. And some are sad. But, to me, endings can also mean closure and completion. That the goal has been reached. The results have been achieved. Ta-da! Success!
Particularly since I’ve become a mother, those kind of endings have been in short supply.
Being a mom means many endless tasks: disciplining children, helping with schoolwork, cleaning the house, giving instructions… The list itself is endless.
This used to be so discouraging for me. It still is at times. But much less so since I began celebrating progress instead of results.
Some people look back at the year on January 1. I measure my years from September to May — school years. And I take time to take stock of what progress I’ve seen in myself, my marriage and my children over the past nine months.
This year, I’ve seen my daughter make some solid academic strides. My son, who has cystic fibrosis, is beginning to take more ownership and responsibility for his own health and medical care.
My husband and I are making time with each other more of a priority and we’ve seen some nice growth in our relationship.
Personally, I continue to make progress in killing the people-pleasing beast. I continue to make strides in giving the kids more responsibility and drawing clearer boundaries.
Have any of us arrived? No. We all still have plenty of room for improvement. The finish line isn’t even in sight.
When I only feel successful if I achieve certain results, I become bitter and discouraged. I feel inadequate. I become critical of myself and others (so inspiring, right?!)
This shift from celebrating progress instead of results didn’t happen overnight. And it’s an ongoing process. I have to allow the Holy Spirit to do some work on my heart and mind. I have to ask God to help me see how far He’s brought me, instead of how far I have left to go.
I also have to be deliberate in chasing and celebrating progress instead of only specific results. Here’s a few ways I try to do that:
Set smaller goals toward the bigger ones. Help your kids do the same. For the child who’s struggling in school, a goal of straight A’s in a 9-week period could be overwhelming and unrealistic. Instead, perhaps encourage him or her to try to raise their a couple of grades one letter. And then help them make a list of changes they can make to meet that goal. On a personal level, I struggle with setting consistent boundaries. Instead of trying to “set clear boundaries from now on,” I determine, with God’s help, to set clearer parameters in one area where I know I am weak. And then I move on to another area.
Praise and reward progress. I try to be very specific and deliberate in praising my kids progress — particularly those areas that I know are a real struggle for them. Giving a small, but tangible reward for improvement — from time to time — can also give a real boost in motivation to keep going. I also reward myself from time to time when I’ve met a goal. Not often enough, though! Again, this is an area where I need to make progress.
Journal your personal and family accomplishments. Writing down our prayers, our goals and our victories is such an amazing record of how God is working in our lives. I’ve gone back to these journals again and again to remind myself of where my family was and where God has brought us. It is so motivating, faith-building and encouraging.
When we feel like we’re falling short, moms, our tendency is to beat ourselves up. I say, it’s high time we celebrate … progress.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9