Memorialize the Milestones
I sat in the hospital bed and laughed while my husband changed a newborn diaper full of meconium (that nasty, black, sticky tar stuff) for the first time. He opened the diaper, and our son immediately drug his heels through it and wiped it on everything---the blankets, his hands, his pants! “Maybe try holding his feet like this,” my sweet sister-in-law advised as she demonstrated how to hold both of his tiny tarred up feet in one hand.
Gross as it was, we were excited to see that black tar. It’s a milestone in a baby’s life. As babies learn to eat, we encourage them to burp. We pat and rub their back and wait for the belch. As soon as it comes out, we lovingly say “Oh, good boy! That’s a great burp!” Another milestone!
We celebrate poop again while potty training. We had a potty party for my boys after they learned to go on the potty. I pulled out ALL of the stops in attempts to give them the confidence to let it go in the toilet. I brought in one of my boys’ favorite Wiggles CDs, bought party hats, and facilitated a dance and sing-a-long party every time he tried to go. I told him we’d call the Wiggles if he were successful. When he was finally trained, we called them (thanks to a friend with a decent enough Australian accent to fool a 3-year-old.)
Milestones are symbols of growth. They are required for us to move on to the next stage in our lives. They seem incredibly insignificant and silly out of context. No one is getting a “good boy” at our dining table for belching anymore.
We were designed to grow…continually…for the rest of our lives. We were never intended to stay the same, level out, or reach a destination and call it good. There’s a part of our inner wiring that craves growth. We want to become better. We have to develop and nurture a mindset that understands the process for growth, which includes failing, responding to, and overcoming resistance. We learn and grow far more from our failures than we do from our successes. We have to see the meaning in the mundane and appreciate steps in the right direction.
If we place value on growth, milestones should be something we continue celebrating. We are good at celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. We acknowledge and celebrate accomplishments like graduation, the birth of a baby, or landing our first job. Our culture puts a lot of celebratory emphasis on achievements.
While celebrating all of those things is valid, creates fun social opportunities, and is really part of our culture and family traditions, celebrating milestones can do something traditional celebrations cannot. Milestones help us see progress while it’s in process. They help us become grateful for everyday opportunities. They allow us to see the good in what could otherwise be perceived as bad, and give us the opportunity to respond to our life with the ability to grow and to learn no matter what comes our way. We begin to live by a belief that life does not happen TO us, it will be used FOR us. Celebrating milestones gives us the ability to experience life with greater capacity and appreciation.
How many of us have celebrated a job loss? Probably no one right away, but a few of us later on. My first response to the loss of what I considered my dream job was devastation. It took me a while, but I now celebrate that loss because of what I gained! I began to see opportunities in places I would never have looked before. I tried things I wouldn’t have considered because I didn’t need to when I had a job. That loss taught me about letting go so I could grab a hold of new and better things. I view that experience as a vital one, and I celebrate the massive lessons I learned. I am different because of that loss. That’s a milestone worth memorializing and celebrating.
What about our first heartbreak? There's no celebration happening at the beginning of that experience, but on the other side of it, some of us are jumping for joy that we didn't continue down that path. While the pain was great initially, what we walked away from (or what walked away from us) was really holding us back. It’s a milestone to finally realize something like this. We learn to become better in relationships, solidify our values, and not to settle. Growth will come by choice. The choice is to see that moment as an opportunity.
- Doing something even when you were afraid -->Incredibly big milestone.
- Being the first to take steps to repair a relationship -->Definitely a milestone.
- Figuring out what you are passionate about -->That can change everything!
- Receiving constructive criticism -->Big opportunity to become better.
- Sticking to a discipline even though you don’t feel like it -->That’s a key to massive growth.
Milestones need to be memorialized. These moments in our story sometimes end chapters or begin new ones. They are often pivotal points that change the trajectory of our future and can be the turning point that we look back to and give credit for what we've become and where we are. The choice is ours. Will we choose to find and celebrate these milestones? Will we take the opportunity they present to grow and become better?
We can still celebrate poop in our lives. We’ve just leveled up the kind of “poop” we can celebrate! Milestones aren’t just the bad things. At first glance, they may be familiar, everyday things, but once you look beneath the surface, they are much, much more.
MARCH CHANGE CHALLENGE:
Identify a few milestones in your life today and do a little happy dance to celebrate who you’ve become because of them.