The most unnatural thing? Praising ourselves

As 2018 draws to a close like many of us I recently found myself looking at my to-do list and the goals I set myself for the year. Looking down the list my eyes were drawn to those items I had not yet crossed out or those that were still underway, and my heart sank slightly. Am I a failure? What will my line manager think? I wish I had done more, could I have done more? It was an easy thought pattern to get into, especially when the external landscape is so unsteady and there’s a lot of uncertainty around jobs and what the future might hold.

I sat and thought for a while, while also pondering the scientific advancements in time travel, and after some time I realised that I had been thinking about everything wrong. As humans most of us are focussed on our own perceived failings: goals we haven’t achieved, deadlines missed and opportunities lost; where we’ve fallen short or not succeeded. What we’re not very good at, and what often seems like the most unnatural thing, is to focus on our successes: the goals we have achieved, deadlines hit and opportunities transformed into realities; where we’ve gone above and beyond and succeeded.

I decided to have another look at my to-do list and goals – and while there are a couple items that I’m carrying over to 2019, I am immensely proud of all of the things that I have achieved in 2018 – and all the additional things that I’ve added to my list and achieved throughout the year too!

As we approach the holiday season, I would encourage each of us to look back on 2018 and to challenge our thinking to reflect not on the one or two items we haven’t completed just yet, but on the many successes we and our teams have shared this year. It’s funny how the New Year and our goals don’t seem quite as daunting when we acknowledge our wins and build confidence to take on the next challenge.

Here are a few questions that helped me get started and may help you too.

Happy holidays, everyone!

- What has gone well?
- What am I most proud of?
- What have I learned this year?
- What is the biggest challenge I’ve overcome?
- Is there a new challenge I’d like to accomplish?

Stephanie Kowalewicz, Research and Public Affairs Manager, Bright Horizons