Be Here Now: Experiencing Milestones Mindfully

Milestones come in all shapes and sizes. Your first job. An important birthday. Your first "adult" apartment. While it’s easy to see these times as checkmarks on our life's to-do list, we need to remember to take a step back and realize how significant these moments are. You can never get that moment or those feelings back. The sigh of relief and pride when you nailed that interview and you got the job. The feeling you got when you walked into your first apartment and realized that you finally had a space to call your own. These are big, life-changing moments.

There are also small, daily milestones. Getting up out of your cozy bed to work out. Finishing that book you promised yourself you’d read last month. Receiving positive feedback for a job well done on that work project you busted your butt on. Celebrating our daily milestones is essential for our well-being. Acknowledging that the effort and thoughtfulness you put into something has paid off is a great feeling. It’s deeply rewarding to take a moment to revel in your happiness, your relief, or your gratefulness. Reflecting on how far you’ve grown over the past week, month, or even years can be grounding.

I encountered a big milestone two years ago when I moved across the country for a job.  Moving had always been the plan, but it happened sooner than intended when my work provided me the opportunity to relocate. At the time, the move was a means to an end. It got me to the location I wanted to be in, and I was fortunate enough to have a job waiting for me when I got there.

But I didn’t realize at the time what a huge life decision I had made. I rushed through the moments, excited to see what was ahead of me, neglecting to take the time to realize what was in front of me. Two years later, it’s crazy to think how fast the time has gone and how much I’ve grown. When I look back on what I was thinking when I made the move, my thoughts drift towards freaking out about finding an apartment and wondering how I would make friends in a new city.  It’s hard to remember if I was excited or nervous; I just remember my to-do list.

We’ve all been in places in our lives where we blaze past important moments because we’re thinking ahead to our next task. But hindsight is always 20/20. You often don't realize how monumental those events are at the time; it's not until you look back when you're years down the road and see how far you’ve come that their weight becomes evident.

When we encounter these milestones in our life, we need to remember to stop for a minute and really soak it in. Close your eyes and take a mental picture and note how you feel at that exact moment. (Journaling can be great for preserving these thoughts and feelings, too.) We need to be grateful for the experiences that life has given us. We need to learn and grow to become better versions of ourselves. These milestones are reminders to be mindful. Reminders to live in the moment and be thoughtful about the decisions you make. Every opportunity that life presents us serves a purpose in the greater scheme of things. So celebrate those milestones. Enjoy the moments. And be thankful for the journey.