We often start the year with stated or unstated goals or intentions of what we want to accomplish or how we want to develop within that year. While we may measure our progress throughout the year, most people don’t spend a lot of time celebrating that progress. Accomplishing your goals, big or small, should always be a celebration!

Celebrate more than the ultimate goal

Those goals or intentions are comprised of many small actions or shifts. In development terms, we talk about those small actions as 1-degree shifts. If we only celebrate when we achieve the ultimate goal or development shift, we lose many positive activities that occur throughout the process.

Celebrate the wins because they have positive benefits

Celebrating our accomplishments gives us a hit of dopamine – the feel-good brain chemical. We are not robots moving from task to task. We are humans, and it is nice to experience the feelings associated with accomplishment.

  • When we celebrate, our brains know that our efforts are worth it. We like to see that we are making progress.
  • Finding ways to celebrate can also build our confidence as we experience various successes. 
  • These small celebrations can motivate us to keep going and know that we can tackle large, challenging or complex things. 
  • Celebrating progress can also help reduce the natural negativity bias in our brains. Our brains are wired to remember more negatives than positives. This is why many people skip to the ‘what do I need to improve’ areas of their performance reviews or the ‘how can we improve this process/system’ before celebrating the work that got us there.
  • Celebrating the small wins allows us to reflect on our ‘experiment’ to see how it worked. We can adjust and adapt as necessary by reflecting on the small steps. This reflection will positively impacting the rest of the goal/project/development.

Your small wins matter

You have likely had many small wins throughout the year that were tied to a goal, project, or personal and professional development. We need to focus on the development progress and not just the end result. Some wins to celebrate might be:

  • Putting stronger boundaries in place
  • Having a difficult conversation that you avoided for months
  • Starting an appreciation or gratitude practice
  • Exercising more days this year than you did last year
  • Practicing self-compassion
  • Acknowledging a mistake and growing from it
  • Creating a positive environment
  • Starting to listen more and talk less
  • Allowing yourself to focus on progress/not perfection
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone
  • Taking a risk
  • Mentoring someone
  • Opening your world to new perspectives

Here’s how you can identify and turn wins into a celebration

If you are stuck trying to identify the small but significant ways you developed this year, consider the following questions to start the brainstorming:

  • What new insights did you have?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What habits did you change?
  • What dreams did you set in motion?
  • What was unique about this year?
  • What are you proud of from this past year?
  • What limiting beliefs did you let go of?
  • What mantra did you identify and put in place? 
  • What positive new ideas do you hold about yourself?
  • Who did you meet that was interesting?
  • What relationship did you build or strengthen?
  • How did you pick yourself back up when you fell?
  • What lessons have you learned (painful or not)?
  • What new boundary did you put in place? 
  • What small step did you take that makes you happier or more fulfilled in life? 

Now is a great time to reflect on your small wins throughout the year and make it a celebration.

Celebrate you! You did good.