When our daughter graduated from high school a few years ago, I asked a number of people in her life to write her a letter to congratulate her on this accomplishment. I asked them to include words of wisdom as she moved into her next phase of life.
I made a scrapbook with the letters and gave it to her as she headed off to college. In my mind, the purpose of the scrapbook was two-fold. In those moments when she struggled during this next phase, we wanted her to remember what she had already accomplished. We also wanted her to remember she was not walking the road alone; that she has lot of people in her court who believe in her.
Unquestionably, every day is a gift. However, certain days mark significant moments in our lives. Whether it’s a fifth grade, high school or college graduation, celebrate each milestone. Each of these moments in life marks a time of accomplishment and of moving forward to the next thing.
Author and speaker John Stahl-Wert says it is important to celebrate milestones for five reasons:
As humans we are called to grow. “Becoming more” is essential. We suffer when we don’t grow. Every milestone deserves notice. It is affirmation of an accomplishment.
Growth is nourished by encouragement. Celebrate even the small steps because “small is where big comes from.” We guide others toward bigness through encouragement.
Acknowledging milestones gives us the opportunity to reflect on where we have been, where we are now and what we can learn from this part of the journey. Our growing and achieving is for the greater purpose of our service to the world. Achievement, in and of itself, doesn’t fulfill, and without reflection, we are trapped by an insatiable avarice to fill a bottomless hole.
Nothing locks in learning like a party. It signifies that the accomplishment really matters.
Celebrating milestones reminds us to give thanks for everyday moments. When we pause to celebrate something that is noteworthy, the act of slowing down invites us to notice everything else.
It’s been several years since our daughter graduated from high school. Little did we know how impactful that scrapbook would be. It sits on her coffee table and when the going gets tough, it reminds her that people believe in her and that she has what it takes to keep on keeping on.
In a world where it seems like it’s all about the “big wins,” it might be helpful to remember that there is no such thing as a small victory or a wasted loss. Each experience helps prepare us for what lies ahead, so celebrate!
This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on May 28, 2017.