“I thought that if I strung all the goals and accomplishments together, all that progress would equal a life I’d feel good about.”

In years past, I’ve measured everything by the amount of progress I’ve made, goals I’ve hit, momentum gained.

I wasn’t your stereotypical overachiever. I wasn’t a workaholic. It’s hard to say what I was, except that I was driven by the notion of trying my hardest, fearful of being the same in 10 years or even two.

I was in love with the feeling of forward motion.

But that feeling—the feeling that you’re finally getting somewhere—is a trickster. So many times I felt progress, only to find that, actually, I wanted something different, or, truthfully, that the achievement wasn’t as bright and sparkly as I’d imagined. I thought that if I strung all the goals and accomplishments together, all that progress would equal a life I’d feel good about.

The past year has taught me that life is what’s happening right now.

That in all the striving for forward motion, I’ve missed quite a bit of the present moment. And that if now isn’t okay, what’s next won’t be, either. Because when next becomes now, I wouldn’t find myself appreciating the fruits of my labor. I’d be forward-focused, always on to the next, next, next.

I still love the feeling of forward movement in my life. But I’ve settled into the knowledge that forward movement is inevitable—it’s part of my life, it’s who I am.

And I can just relax in the flow, let the current take me, instead of paddling endlessly. I still have interests and there are still things I’d like to do and there are still accomplishments I’d be happy to realize. It’s just that I’m no longer so obsessed with getting somewhere, and instead I’m obsessed with being right here, where I am, as much as I can.

Yesterday I sat outside in the bright spring sun with my three-year-old son and two-year-old niece. They have so much ahead of them; they make so much forward progress each day. Do they spend time focusing on that? No. They sat outside, soaking in the sun, excited by the distant sound of the garbage truck, enthralled by a game of Simon Says, overjoyed by the fresh yellow dandelions they found in the grass. They’re in the now, unconcerned by the progress they haven’t made, or even the progress they have. It felt like a wonder to be able to be in the moment with them.

You might think that without the striving, I’d cease to progress. It might sound, at first, like I’ve given up trying.

That is not it at all. I’m still going, still moving, still growing. Just without the struggle. I still want that forward motion, that growth and expansion, but I’m aware, now, that I’m less apt to find it when I make my life an endless to-do list and more apt to find it when I relax, go with the flow, and make time to hunt for dandelions.


MotherHustle panelist Stacy Firth is a writer and content strategist who helps moms who are small business owners and solopreneurs create online content that keeps it real. She also leads workshops that help mamas lead a lit-up life, and is mama to two. You can find her on her website or on Instagram at @stacyrfirth.

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