You’re doing a great job.

I was horrendously late for my workout.

My friend Justin had been waiting inside the gym for 25 minutes.

“Sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry,” I spluttered as I bent over and double-knotted my sneakers. I hate being late. I try to avoid it at all costs. My day was not off to a good start.

To make matters worse, I had forgotten my water bottle, my elastic hair tie snapped apart, and there was a mysterious brown stain (coffee, let us hope?) on my shirt. I was an utter disgrace.

But Justin seemed unbothered.

“Hey. You made it!” he said cheerfully.

“Yeah, barely, I’m so late,” I said, adding fourteen more “sorries” for good measure.

“Well, whatever! You got here. That’s what matters,” Justin said with great conviction.

I plopped down onto the floor and started stretching haphazardly. My body was in the gym but my mind was still far away, lost in a tornado of self-criticism. Then Justin crouched down to meet me. He looked me straight in the eyeballs.

“Hey Alex,” he said with intense seriousness.

“Huh? What?”

A pause.

“You’re doing a great job.”

“I am?” I asked tremulously. My voice was a high-pitched mousey squeak.


“Oh. Okay.”

And then we both started laughing hysterically. Me, more like snort-cry-laughing.

“No really though,” he added. “You are.”

YDAGJ became our inside joke. Whenever one of us was having a rough day for any reason—big or small—we’d look each other in the eyes and fervently declare: “YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB!” It became a catchphrase, like a secret password, reminding us to calm down, to breathe, to stop being so perfectionistic and relentlessly hard on ourselves, and to celebrate all the wins in life—especially the tiny wins that often go unnoticed and unacknowledged.

You made it to the gym? YDAGJ!

AND you registered to vote? YDAGJ!

You ate a good breakfast with some protein? YDAGJ!

Your heart was shattered but you found the courage to start dating again and you set up an online profile and uploaded two photos? Whoa. YDAGJ!

You’re struggling with depression and it’s hard to do stuff (like, any stuff at all…) but you went online and scheduled an appointment with your therapist? YDAGJ!

The world would be a happier, healthier, and more compassionate place if we remembered to say “You’re doing a great job” more often. To each other. And to ourselves.

If you are having a tough day… if you feel like a walking garbage can disguised as a human being… if you feel frustrated because you only achieved the first 3 items on your to-do list which is 3,481 items long… then I want you to know… hey you… yeah, you…

You’re doing a great job.

Really, you are.