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What’s On Your Victory List?

Could writing a victory list help you prioritize, focus, and celebrate your accomplishments? Let me explain what I mean by ‘victory list’ and why I started writing one.

As I wrote previously, my son’s father passed away unexpectedly in February. The first couple of weeks after Jose’s death, I was in a fog of grief and trying to manage what felt like a hundred moving parts. Comforting my children. Making funeral plans. Embracing visitors. Writing thank you notes. Integrating a new dog into our family. Helping sort and move things from Jose’s apartment. Going to counseling appointments. Figuring out new routines. Adjusting to 24/7 life as a single parent.

Write a victory list | Happy Simple Living blog

If you’ve ever experienced a difficult loss, you’ll understand my realization that it didn’t matter if I woke up feeling blue or overwhelmed — life relentlessly insisted that we go on.

That can sometimes be a good thing. It’s just not always an easy thing.

The counselor told me that I had to make time to care for myself, and while I knew she was right the practical application of how to do that was less clear. In those early, foggy days, I began writing a list of small accomplishments.

“Had a nice bath.”

“Went to church.”

“Enjoyed adult conversation and watched the sun set with Leslie.”

“Turned in my article on time.”

“Finished the taxes.”

“Got my hair cut.”

“Took a walk around the neighborhood.”

The list was a touchstone, a way to record the small, simple things that were challenging and important at the time.

At the end of the month, I reviewed the list and felt good and hopeful. So I started a new list the following month, and felt similarly satisfied 30 days later. Now I’m on Victory List #3.

Keeping a list of victories is a way for me to quiet the little voice (the one I try to ignore) that says I don’t do enough.

My list is proof that we’re making progress, and it helps me stay hopeful about the days to come.

How about you?

I know you’re dealing with your own challenges. Could jotting down your small victories help you recognize and celebrate your accomplishments?

Aside from the typical ‘to do’ tasks we all have, what would you like to see on your victory list? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Photo: Zoë Biggs

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is the author of 17 books, including Small Bites, 101 Things To Do With Bacon, and BERRIES. She enjoys sharing ideas to simplify cooking, gardening, and home projects. She is also the owner of Cross Media, Inc. and founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society.

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6 thoughts on “What’s On Your Victory List?”

  1. Eliza – – What a lovely idea. Celebrating those small daily things can be hard to do when there is that nagging feeling that we are never doing enough. For me, this week, the list would include: taking a bath, going to a yoga class, grilling for dinner one night.

    Hang in there. I remember the fog I experienced after my niece died unexpectedly in a ski accident almost 6 years ago. I started gardening with passion and counted each new flower planted or weed pulled as my victories during that hard time. Best wishes during this Earth Week to you and your family.

  2. I love your list, Lyn, and hope those moments happen for you. I’m sorry you’re a member of the Grief Club. How very sad and difficult to lose your dear niece suddenly like that. I’m sorry. I appreciate your heartfelt encouragement. Hugs…xoxo

  3. Hey Eliza! Greetings from southern Colorado!
    So sorry to hear of your loss. It must be devastating…
    I love your advice! I so rarely congratulate myself for doing a great job of just living my life day-to-day. I especially needed this when we first moved here and EVERYTHING WAS SO DIFFERENT! I’m now learning how to be-here-now and appreciate the new life we have created in nature.
    Good luck and blessings,

  4. P.S. Eliza, have you heard of the FB writing group “Women of Midlife”? It’s great group to belong to. Supportive and informative for women writers. LLC

  5. I would love to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail. My other idea would to take part in a march. To feel like you are part of a vast movement trying to make a small change for the good of mankind.

  6. I went through the same exact thing last year. My ex-husband (we had been divorced only a year) died suddenly in a home accident. It sent my daughter and I reeling, to put it mildly. It was a huge period of adjustment coming on the heels of the maelstrom of a divorce. It is a very awkward and strange place to be, losing your ex.

    Though you made me laugh because, like you, I also took his dog into my home. In a way, that was such a great distraction in our grief. I think we walked our way through things mile by mile, the dog, my daughter and I.

    Anyway, I have been counting all of the small “victories” as you say. There is a clarity that you acquire following a big loss. For me it has meant slowing down and taking stock of the small things. Time outside with my daughter; her school activities; DIY projects. Whatever it is, I take the time for a deep breath and gratitude.

    Thank you for sharing your story.


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