This was the constant complaint out of my mouth for the first half of 2016 as we adjusted to life in a new country. In California, we operated fluently in the language, culture, and everyday life. When we moved, we stripped away most of our competency. In Thailand, everything was (and is) foreign and new. We worked hard those first months to complete the simplest tasks. The systems are different here, so moving required constant learning for several months.
At the end of most days, complaints were on my lips. "Michael, can you believe it took me three hours to get the grocery shopping done? I could do it in a little over an hour back at home with both kids in tow." "Michael, I only got in an hour of Thai study today because Cora wouldn't nap!" "Michael, today I got nothing done."
Enter: the outlook changing practice of acknowledging and celebrating small victories.
After a few months of complaining, we decided to begin talking about all we accomplished rather than all that we didn't get to that day. We would take turns most evenings. One of us would list out for the other all we did and the other acknowledged the hard work that went into each of those victories no matter how small.
Our lists were simple, "Today, I reviewed my Thai tutoring session, learned where to buy the shoes Grace needs for preschool, and called my mom." (Though I must admit, it took at least a month to reach that level of productivity in a single day!)
When we acknowledged the hard work that went into even a small victory, at the end of the day, we felt proud. We felt grateful each evening for the progress we had made in learning to operate in a new language and culture.
Even today, we sometimes feel frustrated and tired at the end of a day or week that appears to be fruitless. So, when we notice our hearts bending toward dissatisfaction and complaint, we stop to acknowledge and celebrate small victories together.
For you, it may not be moving around the globe with little children that has taken away your competency. But, there may be something else that has stolen your ability to produce -- becoming a parent, starting a new job, coping with chronic physical or mental illness, etc. So, I encourage you. When you are able, try listing out your victories, large and small, to a friend or even to yourself. I hope it's a game changer for you too.