In early December, my wife and I celebrated a rather remarkable milestone in our lives as we reached our 25th year of marriage – the Silver Anniversary. Anyone who’s been married can tell you this is no easy task, and there were plenty of bumps and bruises. We’ve moved a total of 12 times, brought five children into the world, and each of us has held at least a few different jobs. I could surely bore you with lots of other markers along the way.
I’m rather certain that my family is not particularly unique in marking these achievements because so many have done the same thing. But in getting prepared to take a short road trip to attend my oldest son’s college graduation last week, I was struck by just how many milestones I’ve passed on the way to today.
Maybe it’s because the end of the year is a time of reflection for many, but reaching this big milestone, the graduation of my oldest son from college, is hitting me as a pretty big deal, and it has forced me to sort of step back and evaluate myself in that process.
As he moves away from the “nest” even further, I find myself asking, “Did I do enough to help him succeed? Did I help give him the skills necessary to deal with challenges? Will he have all the tools necessary to find his way? Have I been a good leader and example?”
I believe we all struggle with questions like these, whether it’s related to family, friends or the businesses we run or work in. These questions are part of being human, and it’s why markers and milestones matter so much.
I had a wonderful mentor early in my career who repeatedly (and by repeatedly I mean almost daily) told me…“You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” She used this colloquialism to remind me not to repeat the same mistakes that I or others before me had made. It was a great way to get me thinking about doing new things or finding new ways to get things accomplished, and it impacted me profoundly.
As you take time here at the end of another year to mark the milestones in your life or in the life of your company, take time to appreciate the steps you’ve taken in reaching them. And then make sure to outline what your milestones might be for the upcoming year, so you can mark their passage on your way to success. Milestones make things exciting and adventurous. There’s a reason people climbing Mount Everest mark very specific spots on the route. It helps you know the summit is nearer and that the pinnacle can be reached.
I hope that 2018 wasn’t as big a challenge as climbing Mount Everest, and I pray that 2019 won’t be either. But whatever bump, hill or mountain you have to climb, make sure you mark the milestones. It’ll help you know that you can make it and will give you a chance to celebrate along the way.
I wish you each the happiest of days over the holiday season. May you all have a blessed Christmas holiday and a wonderful New Year. I’ll see you at the summit.
Until next time,