What are you proud of?

What Are You Proud Of?

Last week, I was singing along with Katy Perry’s Roarand with the Olympics coming up, I started really thinking about what gets me going. I’m all for singing “Dancing through the fire. ‘Cause I am the champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!” at the top of my lungs. Now I’m watching the Olympics (obsessively) and it’s clear that to be an Olympian, that is your life. You eat, breathe, train, strategize, and compete. You break your leg? Get back out there! Your team needs you! You give yourself a concussion? Shake it off! You can still win yourself a medal! These people are passionate. They found their thing and now they’re doing it.

What about the rest of us?

I did mention to Mr. T that maybe I was meant to be an Olympic archer but I’ll never know because I never tried. (I make it a point to avoid things that are physically painful, so most other Olympic events are out.) But let’s be honest. I’m no Olympian. That’s not what gets me fired up (though watching it does).

Most of us will win quiet victories outside of the limelight, but these victories are no less important.


We’re going to do a little exercise together (don’t worry, you can stay in your pajamas). Get a piece of paper, open a new Evernote note, or journal or whatever else you use for documenting things and let’s begin (if you want some inspirational girl-pop to get you going, I’ve got you covered):

  1. What are you proud of? – Make a list of the top 5-10 things you are most proud of in your whole life. Think outside what people SAY you should be proud of. This is your list. My list includes sewing a Rapunzel dress for my daughter for Halloween 5 years ago. Big deal? Maybe not. But it was hard, I didn’t know what I was doing, and I figured it all out and it turned out awesome. Also, make sure these are things YOU accomplished that are related to YOU. I’m proud of my kids, but they don’t count for this list because while I did birth them (one of those made the list), I did not accomplish who they are.What are you proud of?
  2. Label each accomplishment with a bigger category – By each one, I want you to try to identify a category. For example: “education” would be the category for a degree, “new skill” for sewing a Halloween costume, “physical challenge” for making it to the Olympics in swimming, etc.
  3. Give each one a hardness rating 1-10 – 10 being the hardest. Giving birth without an epidural and not being emotionally or physically prepared to do so is a 10 on my list!
  4. Put a date by each one – When was the most recent one? What is the period of time between each one?
  5. Identify any patterns – Are 8/10 of our accomplishments new skills? physical tasks? Are they all hard? Do you have a pretty consistent period of time between events?
  6. Plan one new thing you want to see on the list – I’m not a fan of bucket lists, as you know, so don’t be specific. You never know what will end up on this list (I did not foresee natural childbirth OR sewing a Halloween costume!). Stick to categories: new skill in the next year OR breaking your PR in swimming (again, watching the Olympics obsessively over here). The only thing you’re allowed to add that is specific is that one thing that’s been nagging you for YEARS. The one thing you’ve been trying to add to that list, but it’s been eluding you. Write it down.

This exercise was helpful for me. It’s been a good 5 years since one of my all-time proudest moments. Most of mine are newly acquired skills. And what is my Moby Dick? My elephant in the room? My rock of Sisyphus? Learning Cambodian. I am signing up for Cambodian lessons next month for my birthday (treat yo’self with skillz!) and I’m darn excited!

Meanwhile, use the high you get off Olympic coverage and identify those moments that make you Roar!**

What did you learn about what things you’re proud of? What steps will you take to keep that list growing?

*In my defense, my all-time favorite song is the original Eye of the Tiger and when I first heard this one, I considered it blasphemy. But then I recognized it as a super-catchy girl-power original that happens to also say “eye of the tiger.” Now, we’re friends. Also, I’m a teenage girl sometimes… especially when it comes to girl-empowerment-pop!

**I had to say it, sorry. 


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  1. Maggie this is a fantastic way to organise goals, and to recognise your past achievements at the same time – definitely bookmark worthy this topic! (and I did bookmark it).

    The biggest thing I’m proud of at the moment is how Tristan and I have faced our infertility so far, and goes hand-in-hand with our goal to one day become parents. We have really been working on our health and I’m really pleased with our progress, haven’t eaten sugar since April! I hope I can say in a year from now that I’m “proud” we’ve made it to the other side and are officially parents (or baking ourselves a parental role in the oven).

    I’m very impressed with you taking up lessons in Cambodian, quite left field – where did that desire come from? Learning languages is not my forte.. I hope it comes very easily to you!


    • MaggieBanks

      Good for you guys. Infertility is so hard and I completely feel for you (though I do not claim to understand how you feel). You seem to be handling everything like champs and I can’t wait to hear the happy ending to our story!

  2. P.S – you should make this into a challenge! the Northern Expenditure “what are you proud of?” challenge! The format you’ve created is fantastic as a challenge and would really give readers a look into the bloggers mindset, especially on past achievements.

    Naturally, you should do the challenge first 😉


    • MaggieBanks

      I already answered my own questions near the bottom… it’s time you take your turn! And let me know when you turn it into a challenge and I’ll link to you. 🙂

      • Indeed you did mention a couple of your proud moments/answer the question. I think it’s fascinating that one of your biggest achievements is a Rapunzel dress, I love that you went with some left-field achievements! it really gives us an insight into who you are, the Cambodian part was so unexpected to me! I’d love to see your full answers for each step of the questions here – I bet you have so many more things you’re proud of that are a great inspiring answers.

        If you’re passing the batten onto me to turn it into a challenge though, I accept the challenge! I hope I do it justice, though if you do decide to do it in challenge mode first I’d gladly be 2nd.


  3. Very impressive goal!

    This is a very timely question for me. I’m sitting here in my office, supposed to be doing work. Instead, I’m reading comments on my piece that Scary Mommy posted today. People are touched and thanking me for writing it. I’m so proud of my ability to transform thoughts into words that leave an impact on others.

    What am I doing, still sitting here, miserable in my work? Oh yeah, earning money to pay off our debt 🙁

    • MaggieBanks

      So right! And we need those moments to get us through the mundane days where we’re not accomplishing something amazing!

  4. This is a cool idea, Maggie. I’ll have to spend some time thinking about what belongs on my list. If I had to guess, I’d bet most of them will be skills and relationships, not money and material possessions. How ’bout that?

    • MaggieBanks

      I have no material possessions on my list either. Skills definitely is the largest category on mine!

      • Debbie M

        Ha! I do have a material possession on my list: buying (and paying off) a house.

        Most of mine are creations (like a quilt, shelves, scarves, new song lyrics) or skills (mostly sports things). But I also have some things involving setbacks or hurdles (graduating college, buying a car with no credit, finding jobs). And some were physically or psychologically hard to do (asking people out, backpacking the Grand Canyon, running a 10K). And some are service related (taught my brother to read, donated blood). And some are in a category I’m calling hard-to-imagine (bought a house, maxed out a Roth IRA every year since it was invented until one year before I retired, retired early, visited foreign countries).

        Interestingly, most of them were not hard, just time-consuming or taking advantage of opportunities.

        Currently, I’m trying to learn more Spanish (took four semesters at the community college, but that’s still not enough) and reading books (and/or watching movies) from countries around the world (for the tiny countries, at least the wikipedia article). These will take me a while!

        • MaggieBanks

          I LOVE your list! That’s so inspiring! I really hope to add “learned Cambodian” and “paid off my mortgage” to my list in the next few years. Reading books/watching films from countries around the world is such an awesome idea!

  5. I love this idea! Like Matt, I’m going to need to spend some time thinking about it. I know that running a marathon as a non-runner would make my list, and when we retire next year, that will for sure be on it. But this is making me think that I don’t stop enough and think, “Oh, it’s awesome that I did that.” Or other such thoughts that might indicate pride. Is that weird? Okay, maybe I’d add the blog to the list. 😉

    • MaggieBanks

      I don’t focus enough on what really excites me when I do it. There are rare events in our lives that actually make us feel that “shout it from the rooftops” proud feeling. I want more of those! 🙂

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