When I was in college I had a professor who gave us a set of goals at the beginning of the course. These were objectives we were expected to meet in order to be successful in her class. The list was daunting. I failed her class.

I’ve never done well with goals. To me, a goal feels like a line I must meet to be a success. Anything less is failure. There is no room for grey.
Parenting groups are filled with discussions about goals for our children, our relationships, our bodies, our careers, breastfeeding, education, etc. Miles long threads about deadlines and timelines that must be met to feel adequate.
I say bugger to that.
On January 1 when everyone around me is resolving to go to the gym, lose 30 pounds, get a raise at work, potty train their child, or breastfeed for 6 more months, I will be working on my dream board. This is something I do yearly to focus my vision, gather my thoughts on things I’d like to accomplish, and inspire myself. The focus of my board is not the destination (or “goal”) but the journey. The steps I take to get there.
So often we get focused on the end result that we forget to give ourselves credit for the 20 steps it took to get there. Maybe you originally made it a goal to breastfeed for 12 months but made it until 9 for whatever reason. Does this mean you failed? Absolutely not! There are approximately 270 days in 9 months. What of instead of lamenting the fact that you didn’t make it to 12 month you celebrate the fact that you made it 270 days, or 5 hours or whatever the case may be. Your goal is to get a promotion at work and on December 31, 2018 you haven’t gotten it. Did you fail? Not if you worked every day towards your dream. Celebrate that!
In June of this year I decided I wanted to work towards being healthier. I originally had a number in mind that I wanted to see on the scale. It’s almost the end of the year and I’m not quite there. I could decide that I’ve failed or I could choose to look at what I have been able to do. I’ve lost almost 85 pounds. My a1c (a measure of blood sugar) has gone from pre diabetic to perfectly healthy. I have energy. I can run and play with my kids. The success lies in the steps taken to get to the goal, not always reaching the goal.
On December 31 you will find me cutting things out of magazines. Photos, quotes, and stories that I aspire to. But not because those are my goals. Those are things I want to work towards. I want to celebrate every step. I want to set myself up to succeed by rejoicing in every victory, regardless of how small or insignificant it may seem. The victory isn’t in reaching the goal, it’s in working to get there. The victory is waking up every morning to pump before your baby wakes up. The victory is latching your baby for the 4818183848 time of the day at 2 days old. The victory is staring down your worst fear and maybe not defeating it but having the courage to look at it at all. The victory is in the journey, not the destination.

Whatever you aspire to, whether you make it or not, celebrate the steps it takes to get there. Dream. But don’t forget how you will reach your dream. I firmly believe we set ourselves up to succeed when we focus on the journey rather than the destination. When we celebrate the small victories rather than lamenting not reaching the goal. Dream. Reach. Grow. And pat yourself on the back along the way. Be your own cheerleader. Inspire yourself. If you breastfeed for 6 hours, get acknowledged by your boss on your road to the big promotion, get your son to look at the potty, or manage to organize exactly one shelf in one closet of your home, you’ve made progress. Celebrate it.

Leave a Comment