Look How Far You've Already Come
This post first appeared in my newsletter, The Weekly Pep Talk. It’s a place where I share a personal essay, some things I’ve loved reading and a little injection of positivity for the week ahead – if you’d like it in your inbox, you can sign up here.
As humans, we’re conditioned to always be focussed on the future. We set goals and make plans and countdown to important dates, always looking for ways to improve or learn or work harder. We’re constantly striving for more, believing that life will look even better once we’ve ticked the next goal or milestone off our list.
But how often do we actually stop to give ourselves a pat on the back for everything we’ve already achieved? Well, assuming that I fall into the camp of rule rather than exception, I’d say pretty rarely.
This week though, I found myself doing exactly that. Whilst clearing out our junkyard of a cellar (don’t tell me I’m the only one to use their loft/cellar as a dumping ground for crap that’s waiting to be taken to the tip), I came across a folder from a course I took during my first graduate job.
The course was all about the power of positivity, and as I remembered thoroughly enjoying it, i saved the folder from the scrap heap and decided to have a flick through it with a cup of tea. I smiled as I leafed through the modules, remembering how much of a game changer the tips and tricks we learnt had been for me at the time.
And then I came across a piece of paper that stopped me dead in my tracks. On it was a list of goals for the five years ahead that I had set for myself. I can vividly remember being told to dream big, to allow ourselves to document those lofty ambitions that we really wanted to achieve, even if they seemed impossible. I remember feeling a little embarrassed as I wrote my list, worried that so many of the things I'd written down were unattainable, so far away from my current reality that I could barely scratch the surface of them within 5 years.
I was 23 when I attended that course. I’m 28 now, and those 5 years have passed. And do you know what? I've achieved every single thing that I wrote on that list, and so much more. If 23 year old Sophie could see me now, she would be ecstatic.
She would find it so cool that I spend my days leading a brilliant team at a tech start up, and my evenings running a blog that has allowed me to work with brands I love and see new parts of the world. She would be over the moon that I have a both a lovely home and a lovely husband, and that my life is full to the brim with wonderful people. She would be so surprised to see how much more confident I am, how I can pitch ideas to brands and take part in panel events, how I can write down the lofty dreams I have for the next 5 years without even flinching.
None of those things happened to me overnight. I’ve worked hard every single day of those five years to get to where I am, but it was only seeing those achievements through the lense of my 23 year old self that I realised just how far I’ve come. There was a time, not so long go, when my current life was everything I could possible hope for. And rather than running along to the next big plan or goal or milestone, I think it’s important to hold space for this moment right now, the one I dreamed about so much just a few years ago.
I encourage you all to do the same. This week, rather than just rattling your way through your to do list and working your way towards the next big life goal, take some time to appreciate everything you have right now. Reflect back on a time when your current life was all you could have wished for, and give your younger self a pat on the back for having the courage to keep dreaming and working, even when the path to where you are right now wasn’t always clear.
Sure, we might not have quite reached our dream destinations just yet, but half the fun of the journey is looking back at the progress you’ve already made and realising just how brilliant you already are.