This morning I remembered to take out the recycling, which I’d neglected for the last week. I celebrated this achievement with a nice cup of yorkshire tea. Giggle if you want, but I recommend you do something very similar. Celebrate your small wins. Every time you complete a task you’ve been putting off or take a small step toward your goals, take a moment to congratulate yourself. Take a moment to feel good about yourself for doing it. This may feel silly but that’s ok, you are an adult, you can be silly if you want to.
When you congratulate yourself for those small steps you build up the association in your brain between doing what needs to be done and feeling good. Over time that will make it easier for you choose to do the next task and take the step. It will increase your intrinsic motivation. If you only celebrate the big wins, you won’t build up the positive motivation driving you to do the work. And make no mistake, it’s doing the work that matters. Success is only a side effect of doing the necessary work.
Another side effect of what I’m proposing is you’ll be happier. If you only reward the big successes, you will give yourself that emotional boost too rarely. When you celebrate the small wins you give yourself that boost much more frequently. The good feelings will spread into the next task and much more of your days will be spent feeling good about yourself and what you do.
Now, some of you may be asking yourselves if you really deserve to celebrate those small wins. I get that, I think like that sometimes too, but you do, you really do. Those small things, whatever they are for you, are exactly what you deserve to congratulate yourselves for. You are doing them even though no one else is going to reward you for them. Maybe no one is even going to notice, but you do it anyways. And you didn’t have to do it. I could have let the recycling sit there another day… but I didn’t, and that’s why it deserves celebrating.
Your celebration doesn’t have to be big. You don’t have to throw a party every time you take out the garbage. Just stop for a moment, smile, and tell yourself, “good job, I’m glad you did that.” It doesn’t have to be big but try to do it every time. And every once in a while, do something nice for yourself, like my cup of tea.
So, when you’ve done some little task that moves you towards your goals, take a moment to celebrate it, feel good about doing it, and then move on to the next step. After I enjoyed my cup of tea, I sat down and meditated, which is something else I’d been neglecting this week. And you know what? I feel pretty good about that too.