Even though I love living in northern Michigan, January and February in the Great Lakes state can mean extended times of cold, dreary, sunless weather, creating cabin fever for many, and Seasonal Affective Disorder for some.
To me, the winter season, when we tend to associate warmer weather with happier times, is symptomatic of our cultural penchant for overemphasizing the big experiences of our lives over the small, seemingly mundane moments.
I think it’s a big reason why, as I shared in my last post, so many New Years’ Resolutions fail before the end of January.
The Value of Embracing the Mundane
There’s nothing inherently wrong with goals, aspirations and looking forward to fun experiences–it’s what helps us endure those snowy winters that often extend into April.
But I’m convinced that the real key to presenting the best version of yourself, creating lasting change, and living purposefully lies not in the magical, but in the ordinary moments of our lives.
Here’s how author Paul Tripp puts it:
The reality is that few smokers have actually quit because of a single moment of resolve. Few obese people have become slim because of one dramatic moment of commitment. Few people who were deeply in debt have changed their financial lifestyles because they resolved to do so as the old year gave way to the new. And few marriages have been changed by means of one dramatic resolution.The point: True lasting change is more of a mundane process than a series of dramatic events. Our lives don’t lurch from big moment to big moment. We all live in the utterly mundane. So don’t devalue the little moments of life – the true character of a life is not set in one or two or three dramatic moments, but in thousands of little moments. The character and wisdom that is formed in those little moments shapes how we respond to the big moments of our lives.
If you’re tempted during these winter months to succumb to boredom and count the days until spring, I’m recommending three alternatives to bring out the best in you this winter. Here’s the first:
1. Celebrate the small wins.
I love how leadership expert Craig Groeschel developed a unique approach to “gamifying” small acts of self-improvement in his daily life.
Craig exudes the driven, type A personality of a high level leader. Recognizing that his constant need to push himself and strive for big goals was robbing him of meaningful moments, he created a simple system to celebrate everyday wins.
Since so many of the wins in my organization feel distant to me, I’ve created little buckets, each one representing a small but meaningful win in my life. And each time I complete one, I place a penny in the bucket.
Craig’s “win buckets” come in four categories:
(a) Meaningful conversations – “When I pause from my hurried routine and enjoy people instead of rushing my them, that’s a win I want to notice.”
(b) Acts of spontaneity – “Doing things on the spur of the moment helps me combat driven-ness and enjoy life.”
(c) Unplanned generosity – “Seeing and meeting an unexpected need blesses others and interrupts my intense focus.”
(d) A day of planned rest – “So often I feel guilty when I stop working; I put a penny in the bucket when I honor that need in my life.”
You don’t need a major milestone or significant achievement to celebrate success. Instead, look for small but meaningful wins and reward yourself.
What are some examples of small wins that you can track and celebrate? I’d love to hear from you.
Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!