See How Far You've Come

by EMILY ORTON

“Look at the difference,” Eli said comparing a drawing he made five years ago to one he made last week.  Little by little over the months and years, one drawing at a time, his abilities have transformed.

There are some seasons where I can’t tell I’m progressing at all.  This is especially true in February.  It’s the shortest month, but it feels like the longest.  Like the world will always be gray and cold.  It feels like nothing is coming together.  I have no traction.  I’m spinning my wheels.  I look back at my day, week or even the month and it doesn’t seem like I’ve accomplished anything. I’ve just churned through the days.  It’s very trendy to live in the Now. But what if Now doesn’t look like anything? 

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In these traction-less times I find it helpful to look back at the past five years, ten years or twenty years.  See how far you’ve come.  See how Now connects in a continuous strand of millions of moments going back across the decades.  See how you’ve evolved.  Change is more pronounced.  Momentum is evident.  You are moving forward.  Looking back for a moment can gives you the energy to plod forward.  Like a crocus bulb under frozen dirt.  It seems like nothing is happening, but something is definitely happening.  Sometimes the erratic pattern of progress is grow-pause-grow-pause-pause-grow-pause-BLOOM!

 I've been waiting all season for these guys

I've been waiting all season for these guys

We all lose steam.  Our enthusiasm dips.  When you look back over the past few months or years it’s easier to see which direction you're trending.  That’s the line to keep your eye on.  Ask yourself a few questions: 

Do I know myself better than I did 10 years ago?  

Am I more patient?  

Do I have new skills?  

Have I taken on challenges my younger self never could've imagined?

Have I learned new things?  

Am I stronger?

Am I more confident?

Am I more in sync with my spouse?

Have I done any good?  

Take a deep breath.  Relax those shoulders.  Drink a glass of water.  Recognize how far you’ve come.  Notice how much better you are at so many things.  Acknowledge all the grit it took to grow.  It proves you are primed to progress.  Then count down from five.

And take one step in the direction you want to grow.

 Favorite Family Portrait by a very young Eli

Favorite Family Portrait by a very young Eli

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