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Get Inspired by What You’ve Already Achieved

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

When you look back, you'll be amazed at all you've done.

Do I really need another coffee mug?

This T-shirt?

Another wine glass to wedge into the cupboard?

Do I have to have another memento?

Yes . . . you probably do. But why?

Mileposts for Your Journey

For you, it might be t-shirts, playing cards, hats, or refrigerator magnets. For me, it’s coffee mugs (as you might guess from the featured photo). And even though it’s tempting to call them “trinkets,” I’ve come to realize these things are not just more stuff. Each one can provide an encouraging reminder of an accomplishment.

Travel is often on the “bucket list.” And one of the keys to a satisfying life of Different is not to wait to the end to start dipping into the bucket. If your list is important, it’s important enough to do along the way. (See my post “Young, Old, or In-Between—Now’s the Time to Do Different” for more on this.)

The National Park Collection.

Morning coffee together is a long-standing family custom at my house, and each day, the choice of coffee mugs reminds us of some particular adventure we shared.

  • The one-of-a-kind adventure to the Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone with two of my daughters.

  • The father-son backroads camping trip in Utah.

  • The whole-family sojourn to the Grand Canyon.

Each coffee mug denotes another travel destination accomplished and a meaningful memory etched in our minds. (See “Gifts that Fill the Heart without Cluttering the House” about making memories that bond a relationship.)

Holding a reminder in hand yields a refreshing sense of accomplishment.

Rocking Your Goals

Whether you’re an optimistic, high-energy person or someone not quite so thoroughly resilient, you will hit low points on your journey, because it’s not easy to pursue a dream.

At some point, you’ll think you’ve failed at most everything and will lose hope that you’ll ever prosper or get on track with the life of your dreams again.

Looking back at what you’ve already done can pull you out of the emotional mud. A physical reminder of your past successes can help you beat the down times.

The International Collection.

For centuries, people have been taking heart by checking landmarks. In the Old Testament story of Joshua, the Hebrew people are riding high as the Jordan River miraculously dries up so they can cross into the Promised Land. Joshua, though, recognizes that the euphoria won’t last in the hard times ahead. So, he commands each of the nation’s 12 tribal leaders to choose a stone from the riverbed as a reminder of the astounding crossing.

He also “set up 12 stones in the middle of the Jordan where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing. The stones are there to this day” (Joshua 4:9). Depending on which scholar’s analysis you accept about when the book was written, the stones being “there to this day” could have been as much as several hundred yearsa lasting memorial to what had happened.

So, whatever you’ve done, give yourself credit.

If you’ve never set up (or bought!) memorials to your accomplishments, start doing it now—whether for travel or other goals reached toward Different.

Besides “collectibles,” here are some ideas for benchmarking your objectives:

  • Regular journaling

  • Choice photos of where you’ve been or of the first office (garage?) for your business

  • Books that changed you

  • Relics like a dried flower, a chunk of concrete from a driveway you finally replaced, or the first piece of furniture you ever built.

No matter how far you still have to go on the path you’ve chosen, look at all you’ve already done and take heart!


My latest acquisition

on the trip I had told myself I wouldn't get another coffee mug. Then, I reminded myself why it matters.

(The charming Agia Sophia Coffee Shop is must-stop if you're ever visiting Bend, Oregon.)


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