Life is very busy; we are overbooked, managing multiple schedules of work and family life, and trying to stay sane in the process. It is not surprising then, if over time we forget to stop, acknowledge and celebrate the little successes that occur each day. I recently came to the realization that over the years I had developed a habit of being too clinical (or maybe cynical) around celebrating success, and that I no longer derived much if any satisfaction from completed tasks or projects. I regarded them as no more than mile markers along the road. They came and went, passed with little or no notice. By the time I reached each marker I was already thinking about the next one.
When we were children our parents and teachers would go out of their way to acknowledge success, and with each little celebration we received, the good feeling lodged in our subconscious. As a result, we built an incredible pool of confidence over time that supported our enthusiasm to try, and to approach new tasks with a ‘why not?’ attitude. These celebrations are not about giving everyone a ‘blue ribbon’ for showing up, but about building and reinforcing the confidence and effort just to try.
As we grow into adulthood, those celebrations of success fade and become further and further apart. They are usually only tied to large, big events (project completion, engagements, children, promotions…). For most, these events are widely spaced, and in between these times, we are draining our ‘confidence pool’ and the successes we do celebrate never quite refill the pool.
Over time this behavior has a corrosive effect. If you do not show any sense of accomplishment or satisfaction in the efforts you make, why would anyone around you? It’s easy to start to develop a sense of futility and lose the edge or drive to meet these waypoints. Consequently, instead of being a cause of joy and refilling the confidence pool, the process builds a negative reinforcement loop and confidence pool drain.
Now, celebrating success does not have to mean jumping up and down and announcing it to the world (though there is nothing wrong with that). It can be as simple as giving yourself a coffee, a chocolate, a smile of satisfaction or just stopping and admiring the effort put in and acknowledging and embracing the results (whatever they are).
Remember, success is the completion of the task, not that the outcome achieved is one that was expected. Thinking about it, the tasks that produce unexpected results should be doubly celebrated as these are the ones that produce the most learning and growth.
In closing I pose this question to you:
How much time during the day or week do you take to celebrate your successes? Is it time for a change?