Last night, I noticed that as of September, I had officially read more books already this year than in any other year of my life. This wasn’t a surprise, per se, since I’d set my goal of reading 100 at the beginning of the year and knew I was more or less on track to meet it. But the realization startled me in just how….anti-climactic it was. It barely registered! I had to consciously make myself aware of how cool it is that I’ve increased my baseline beyond what I thought I was capable of, and that I am easily meeting my new goal.
In previous years, it was always a push at the end of the year to make it to my goal of 75 books read by December 31st. I would always make it just by the skin of my teeth, by reading even more than I normally would over Christmas break. Sometimes I worried that I wouldn’t make it, despite having had such a good year of reading. But this year, I breezed past 75 in late September without even noticing, and am still going strong. What gives?!
What gives is that when you set your sights higher, your previous goals feel easier. When you increase your baseline expectations, what once felt monumental is now just a stepping stone on your path to bigger & better things. The old goal which once felt next to impossible becomes the new normal, old news, nothing to write home about. We look forward to the next goal, and the next, constantly pushing ourselves to improve.
I think it’s a very beautiful human tendency, this desire to grow and evolve. But I think it’s important to intentionally take moments to recognize and honour yourself when you notice that you’re more effortlessly achieving things that were once hard for you. I can’t think of a better way to acknowledge your own personal development than to have a moment of respect for when you surpass your previous years’ income by August, or find it’s no big deal to get on stage for a big talk that used to terrify you, or see that you’re flossing your teeth each night without even thinking about it.
It might be hard to recognize these improvements, since they so quickly become our new normal, but I hope we can all take a moment to celebrate ourselves when we discover them.
And if something feels hard right now, just remember: one day, this will be my new normal.