It’s 1 April marking the start of the A to Z April Blogging Challenge. As this post is brought to you by the letter A, it’s time to give a huge thanks to Arlee Bird for conceiving the Challenge and for giving more than 1600 bloggers the impetus to fire up their blogs this month. Arlee is a true blogger and gentlemen and deserves the tag of awesome – another great A word.
Now, onto the Challenge post!
Most of us arrive at middle age wishing we had achieved more. More what exactly is up for grabs, but it’s just more. Whether we have visions of how midlife was for our parents and wanting our own experiences to be different and yes… more or whether we feel we have not met our own expectations, the feeling of something not being enough lurks.
Somehow, somewhere along the way we picture a different midlife scenario, one were we have ticked most, if not all, of the metaphorical boxes that one is supposed to tick off by mid-life. The weight of expectation feels heavy and rather than asking “Are We There Yet?”, we don’t ask at all, because we are afraid of the answer. Either that or we are just too tired to savour what we have done.
About four years ago, I came to realise that every big achievement is made up of many small achievements. The prize of the big achievement can never really be yours until you build a solid foundation, until you have put tab A into slot B. Putting tab A into slot B requires patience, persistence and postponement of the need for instant gratification, so why shouldn’t it be appreciated? I know a good many people who fail to see that putting tab A into slot B is still an achievement, so focused are they on achieving the bigger goal. This is fine, except that when the bigger goal is not reached fast enough or the focus is solely on how far there still is to reach it, feelings of despondency and failure kick in.
I spent quite some time over the last couple of years castigating myself over what I felt I had not achieved. The film reel in my head was playing but intermission never came, all I felt was a greater sense of urgency to reach the end of the film. Expectation will do that to you.
So, you’ve reached forty something and feel you have much left to do? You’re right, you do – there’s the whole second act to live through BUT stop for a minute and savour what you have achieved so far. Chances are you have achieved a great many things from the time you graduated from high school, even if the film reel of how it is supposed to be in your head is not your current reality. Whether its surviving more than a decade of marriage without killing your spouse, becoming a parent and surviving the sleepless nights, building the foundations of a career or business or just being able to greet each day and your fellow citizens with a kind word and a smile you have achieved something. Whether it’s having travelled the world or some part of it, created a home, forged community connections, being a good sibling, maintained a blog for a time you have achieved something.
In his book, Life: A Guide, Adam Fuller describes the years between the ages of 43 to 49 as being in control, but only just as the demands of others tend to take precedence over our own issues. It is time to let our spirits catch up with us otherwise the sacrifice will be to lose the relationship with ourselves and our dreams.
Appreciating all of your achievements to date no matter how small is a great first step to letting your spirit catch up with you.
Today I give myself permission to appreciate my achievements.
What is the one achievement you truly relish?