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"If we're not moving forward, we're standing still. If we're standing still, then we might as well be moving backwards."

“If we’re not moving forward, we’re standing still. If we’re standing still, then we might as well be moving backwards.”

In 2005, we uprooted our family from Massachusetts and plunked them down into Minneapolis suburbia. I focused that first year on shepherding my first grader, kindergartener and two preschoolers through the transition. As a teenager my family moved pretty much every year. It was hard for me but I grew to view it as a positive because I was able to adapt to my surroundings and have pretty high change agility.

However, as a mom, it was so painful and heart wrenching to see my kids go through that loneliness of not having their friends and loved ones around, to be ripped from familiarity and thrown into a new world. It cut so deep that I firmly committed myself to never uprooting them again.

So, more than 7 years later, here I am living in the same house, surrounded by the same people and in the same job for more than 6 years. My life has never been so static for so long. Sure, we lived in Massachusetts for 7 years but each year was so drastically different because I was having babies. Our family was growing, changing, morphing.

We have made many great memories here. Don’t get me wrong. We live in a neighborhood surrounded by great people and for many people on the outside looking in, we have a happy, content life. But honestly, I have struggled with the sameness, repetitiveness of being in one place and one situation for so long. At some point, it defeated me I think, because I became complacent.

Going through the motions. I know the grocery store by heart. Every year the community throws the same festival with the same carnival and bands. Every summer is marked by the same weekend trips to the cabin on the same lake. Christmas is the same with the same meal and same plans. I go to work and see the same people every day. The schools hold the same events every year. Granted, these traditions are a comfort at times but for someone like me who has spent so much of their life with major changes every couple of years – be it relocating, having a baby, changing jobs, etc. – the sameness is numbing. Yes, that word seems appropriate. I think for a couple years here I’ve simply been numb.

Then a co-worker (about ten years my junior and maybe not so overwhelmed by complacency) who often stopped by my desk to chat informed me he was leaving to take a new job. In his impassioned commentary explaining his ambitions he uttered the words, “You’ve got to ALWAYS MOVE FORWARD.”

I don’t know what it was about that moment but those words woke me up. I was in the right place, at the right time to hear them. Really hear them. What’s followed is a daily mental pep talk that includes that simple mantra. I discovered that is probably what’s been missing in the recesses of my mind — a short, sweet personal mission to keep me on track, keep me from dissolving into the atmosphere mentally and emotionally. To keep me awake in the midst of so much that remains the same.

It’s not that I haven’t moved forward in the last seven years. Indeed, I’ve been moving forward all along. I’ve met a remarkable number of people. I started a new job that morphed from part-time to full-time. I even earned some awards at work recently. In the past year I took on myself as a project and got serious about my health (more on that later). So yeah, I’ve achieved some things over the years but I really haven’t had a focus. That lack of focus means that maybe I haven’t accomplished as much as I’d like but sitting around dwelling on my shortcomings and missed opportunities is not a breeding ground for positive growth.

Something about those three little words — ALWAYS MOVE FORWARD — centers me and focuses me on the task at hand – to move forward and continue to achieve. To move forward whether the task at hand is easy, hard or unknown. Because if we aren’t moving forward, we are standing still. And if we are standing still, we might as well be moving backwards.

So what do those words mean to me? Well, they mean applauding my efforts but forgiving myself of my flaws. Most importantly, they are like a gauntlet thrown down in the sand – challenging me to continue fighting the good fight against complacency. To Never Give Up. I may have taken a pretty long half-time break but I’m back at it now, ready to MOVE FORWARD.

This blog is a part of that endeavor for me, to ALWAYS MOVE FORWARD.

What words or phrase serves as your personal motto these days?

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