Focus on How Far You’ve Come

Take a tip from high-performance athletes. Look at how far you’ve come, not how much you have left to do. Scientists call this the horizon effect. It creates encouragement–”I’ve done twice as much as a week ago!”–and builds determination–”I’ve made it this far; I might as well keep going.” Focus on the 10 pounds you did lose; the closet you managed to clean; the $1,000 debt you’ve wiped out; the evening you carved out for yourself. Don’t forget to ask yourself how you’ve accomplished the task so far, so you can mine your success for ideas on how to keep going.

Most of us treat ourselves harshly when we stumble–”You blew it again, you jerk, can’t you ever get it right?” So the very least we can do is to recognize and value when we do it right: “Hey, you managed to keep your cool for the whole week, as you vowed to!”

Congratulations! Self-appreciation is powerful stuff. It reinforces the behavior we want to bring into being. It tells the brain, do more of this. So the next time around, you’re more likely to make that same good choice. Being grateful for how we’ve done reminds us that we indeed have succeeded at something we set out to do. When we fail to acknowledge our efforts, it’s easy for them to become invisible to us.

Recognizing and acknowledging our success also gives us the encouragement to try again tomorrow. Because we are aware of what we’ve done right, we have more confidence that we can do it again. So when we appreciate the success we have today, it actually makes it easier to succeed the next day. Especially when it’s something that involves a lot of effort over time, it’s important to keep appreciating how far you’ve come. That will give you the energy to keep on.

To Try: Right this second, stop and appreciate how well you’ve done so far. Even if you’ve only done it one time, appreciate yourself for that and think about what made the one-time success possible.

Ready to get started? Post your intent and find community support and content to help you achieve it!

In this monthlong learning series, M.J. Ryan, author of the best-selling book This Year I Will…: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True, will take you through four steps, each lasting one week, to help you figure out what your most important intentions are and give you the tools to make each a reality. Just joining the learning series? Go here to start at the beginning. provides content and community for who you aspire to be–personally, socially and globally.


Summerannie Moon
Summerannie M6 years ago

On a personal note....I remind myself all the time what I have done to be here, right now. Struggle, success, sadness, elation, disappointment, selflessness and my love and belief in me. I knew under adversity that I could do it and I did!

Summerannie Moon
Summerannie M6 years ago

Its great advice. When you look at where you have been and what you have actually accomplished rather than looking fearfully into the future, you can really see that you are powerful and successful. Even little steps that is made by someone who lost a leg for instance and has to face rehabilitation and all that effort that he/she faces is rather daunting but when you look back ie..and they saw that perhaps they were in a horrific accident whereby they might have died or even did, and were in a coma and lost a leg for instance, then they were on deaths door as their beloved friends and family hovered over them praying, and a miracle happened where they 'came thru' that fight wow, that is a huge step forward in their journey, then they are told they must learn to walk with their new leg. It hurts, its uncomfortable, but something within you can do it, look at what you have achieved already and in time and effort and support they walk unaided. What an inspiration they are..but everyone can do it. Bit by bit, effort by effort. Its all about perspectives, beliefs and self limiting ideas....isnt it?

Vallee Rose
Vallee R8 years ago

Great advice. Used to be a MH counselor and life got wild afterwards - still is due to circumstances, but need to remember this. Love all these ideas I'm reading aobut.

Vural K.
Past Member 8 years ago


Emerald Jordan
Emerald Jordan9 years ago

Self appreciation is definitely powerful stuff!!! It will even chase away the "blues".