Anyone would think we know how to celebrate, but I come across clients who have NO real idea! Hard working people who rarely take a break or feel slightly guilty if they do, are everywhere in what I call The Serving Sector. You've heard of the public sector, etc; but the Serving Sector are those of us who live to serve others. We may be missionaries or members of the Peace Corps (my younger days) or VSO (Volunteers in Service Overseas), and we know how to work. Often, we have a mindset that says living in a country that doesn't match our passport means hardship- all the time.
"I'm not here to party," I've heard as a reason to not stop to rest, nor celebrate a job well done.
And yet, we are called to give thanks for our blessings. Having an attitude of gratitude means we can figure out how to celebrate. It is a skill! It's also honoring what God has done in our lives, and acknowledging goals reached.
So, let's get started!
First of all, draw up a chart and label your first column as "Mini-Achievements." These could be those tiny answers to prayer that we sometimes forget in a heart beat. With these, let's at least stop a minute and offer up thanks.
The second column could be labelled, "Small Achievements." These could be something we have received as a blessing from God or a friend or family member that just makes us smile. It could be a small goal reached. It may be something small to most people, but still, this blessing means something to you. For me, an example would be sticking to my healthy eating plan in the week before I change countries. I'm sure you are never challenged by Dorritos while packing, but we all have our little hurdles when getting on a plane.
In the next column, list "middle sized achievements." This could be completing an online class or packing up your house. (perhaps the first time you've done this ON YOUR OWN, it would qualify as Major), or sending a child off on a first day of school. In my extravagant way of thinking, all mothers who's child is off for a first day of school would celebrate not just with tissues and a coffee with a friend, but a spa morning! The Celebration needs to match the achievement!
Then we have"The Big Ones!" Write out an example or two of what you would consider major life achievements. For me, it might be a child's wedding or....drum roll please...my first ever Sister's Week where I fly back to the States for a week of sitting by the pool and catching up with my sister. Now, I didn't do a whole lot on this, but it is a major achievement to sort out a date, and have the blessing of flights and family support for my going. I know some people do this sort of thing all the time, but it's a BIG DEAL to me! How about the Big Deal of FINALLY getting pregnant, or adoption papers going through? Or getting your new country assignment and the WHOLE family is happy!? Finding a new house in your new location and moving in? Completed your first year in your new country?
With each achievement, I've been challenged to find appropriate celebrations. I'm training myself to stay away from ice cream as my Celebratory Food of choice. Instead, I'm dancing! Happy dancing for one minute is just right for my mini-achievements. Going out dancing with my husband-middle sized celebration. You get the picture. Worship music on all morning!
But there is one more very important aspect of learning to celebrate that is essential if you are going to truly learn the fine art, if not theology of Celebration. Keep your celebrations focused on celebrating and giving thanks. Do not allow yourself to stop the celebratory mood, with immediately setting another goal. If you reach a goal, no matter how small or big, focus just on the achievement, just the blessing.....you can set new goals another day. It' so easy to say, "...and now I want to....."
Stop yourself. Discipline yourself!
Tomorrow, you can go back to setting goals. Today, we give thanks.