Holidays, Marker Events, Celebrations

2010 has been a year of marker events for us at SOS and this is a time of year when I usually think about such things. I have mentioned previously that Fall feels like the new year to me. The start of school, my birth in September, the Jewish New Year…all of these contribute to the feeling of new-year-ness.

During 2010 Synergistic Office Solutions, Inc. has celebrated 25 years in business. In the Spring we marked my Mother’s 90th birthday; this month we celebrate my 60th. We have also celebrated the decade birthdays of two of our employees in the past few weeks.

As the primary caretaker for an elderly parent, I have learned how important seasonal changes and marker events are to give structure and meaning to our time and our days. Being oriented to day and date, person and place can only occur if we attend to those things in some detail. Birthdays, anniversaries, official and unofficial holidays, seasonal changes in the weather, plants and birds we see…all of these are opportunities to mark where we are in our lives, literally and figuratively.

For many of us, these markers are also how we measure our success. Have we achieved what we set out to do in the past year and up to this point in our lives? Do we do the things that make us happiest on a daily basis rather than just on the special occasion. Do we keep track of our daily activity toward accomplishing our goals? How many of us really know where we stand relative to the things we value in our lives?

This summer, I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. I will discuss that in more detail at some point in the future. The mention now is because of her recommendation that we use actual daily behavior charts to track the steps we take toward our goals. This was a reminder I needed. Most of us would not hesitate to utilize such tools in working with clients, but we somehow think ourselves beyond the need for such props. Many of us are not; growth can be elusive. The primary benefit of such simple tools is that we get to see where we are relative to the goals we have set. First, we set the goal; then we daily give ourselves credit for what we have accomplished and observe the areas in which we struggle.

I once had a friend tell me that she had long ago joined a church so she would have a seasonal calendar to structure the life of her family. Not having and attending to such life events is akin to not setting goals and counting progress toward them. With no structure against which to measure ourselves and our lives, we have only momentary pleasures and frustrations…we lack the opportunity to see where we are within the context of where we have been and where we are going.

If you are a psychotherapist, you are used to helping your clients set goals and accomplish those goals. If you are manager or employee in a behavioral health or other organization, you undoubtedly have certain expectations about what you will accomplish. You may even be required to set goals for yourself and demonstrate how you are moving toward those goals. How do you know you are on your way? How do you know when it is time to give yourself credit or when you should take the opportunity to celebrate?

Here’s an opportunity! Tell us about the marker events that are important in your life. What are you celebrating? How do you make and measure progress toward your goals? Enter your comments below.

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