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3 Reasons to Celebrate the Little Victories (while on the way to the big ones)

Comic - Plans Versus Reality

Is there anyone who doesn’t connect with that comic?

I mean, has your life unfolded just exactly as you thought it would? (If so, there’s something weird going on!)

We don’t even have to talk about life, by the way. How about today? Has today unfolded just as you thought it would?

We map out our lives, our days, our projects, our goals, our careers — you name it — to the best of our abilities, even trying to account for possible surprises, but it never fails: there is always something we didn’t plan on.

Now, we could talk about how you stay on course, moment-by-moment, when life throws you these curve balls — and we do in my Mastering the Moments coaching and training programs — but today I want to focus on something else that’s very important:

The need to celebrate the little victories along the way. (Notice the little red flags in the comic.)

Usually, when we map out our “grand plan” — for life, for today, for our business, etc. — we put the finish flag at the end, and we think, When I get there, I’ll celebrate.

It makes perfect sense if you’re expecting a nice, straight line to victory.

But knowing that we’re going to encounter our fair share (or sometimes more than fair share) of obstacles between here and the finish line, we can’t wait until we get “there” to celebrate.

Here are three reasons to notice and celebrate the little victories en route to the big finish:

1. It makes you feel happy.

Pausing to celebrate a small victory — for instance, clearing 20 emails from your inbox, even when there are 200 still to go — reminds you that you’re making progress, and progress feels good.

“Progress on our goals makes us feel happier and more satisfied with life,” writes Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl.

You don’t have to wait for “someday” when you — hopefully — achieve your goal(s) to be happy. Celebrate the small victories along the way and be happy now.

2. It gives you motivation to keep going.

At any given moment, I can look around my life — as a husband, father, entrepreneur, or speaker — and identify plenty of areas where I feel like I’m falling short. (Let’s face it, we’re never where we feel like we should be.)

If I allowed myself to dwell on all of my shortcomings — or how far I still have to go — I might just give up. This isn’t worth it… I’m not getting anywhere… What’s the use? (Ever feel that?)

When you give your attention to — and celebrate — the little victories, though, you’re essentially reminding yourself that “I am successful… I’m on the right path…”

That lifts your spirits and gives you the boost you need to keep going.

I’ve witnessed this while watching my 3-year-old build a tower with Legos. He doesn’t just wait until the tower is finished to say “yay!” I see a rather indescribable sense of accomplishment every time two blocks click together… and he keeps building.

3. It builds your confidence.

If you allow your attention to be consumed with obstacle after obstacle that you encounter, it’s very easy to feel defeated and powerless.

When you celebrate the little victories, though — like maybe when, after getting derailed five times on Healthcare.gov, you finally get to the enrollment stage (sorry, that one’s still fresh!) — you make another deposit in your “confidence bank” that says “I can do this!”

How important is confidence? Perhaps it’s easiest to observe in athletes. Have you heard the phrase, “He’s (or she’s) on fire!!” — when an athlete is “in the zone” and practically unstoppable? Being “on fire” is all about confidence.

In contrast, have you ever seen an athlete (or a team) “blow it” in one moment — even though you know they have the capability to perform at a higher level — and then the bottom just totally falls out as they continue to play or compete?

“Confidence is so important because you may have all of the ability in the world to perform well, but if you don’t believe you have that ability, then you won’t perform up to that ability,” says Dr. Jim Taylor.

Celebrate every little victory you can so your confidence bank has the “funds” needed to meet the challenges of the day.

So there’s your mission this week: Be on the lookout for the little victories.

And when you notice one, pause for 15-30 seconds and really feel it (a lesson learned from Dr. Rick Hanson) — don’t just rush right on to the next challenge. Applaud yourself. Congratulate yourself. Take it in.

And if you’d like an extra boost of happiness, motivation or confidence, share one of your little victories in the comments section below and we’ll celebrate with you!

(comic courtesy of Doghouse Diaries)

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