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7 Ways to Celebrate Small Wins – and Why it Matters

One of the things I like most about mindful eating is that it’s about making small, incremental changes. You don’t have to do everything all at once. You can work on things in baby steps, focusing first on whatever works best for you.

Making changes in this way is more sustainable in the long run, but it does have a drawback.

It’s harder to recognize progress.

After all, taking 100 small steps will get you to the same place as leaping the length of those 100 steps in a single bound, but it doesn’t seem as impressive. It can be hard to think of a single step as progress or a win.

But it’s so important to acknowledge all your wins, even if they don’t seem very big. If you don’t, you’re much more likely to lose motivation and give up on your overall goals.

If you can celebrate the small changes, though, you’ll feel motivated to build on your success, and you’re less likely to be derailed by a temporary setback.

With that in mind, here are seven ways to start celebrating these small wins.

1: Change your perspective

The first and most important step is to change your perspective. Instead of always focusing on the big end goal, break it up into smaller, incremental goals. Remember that each of those smaller goals is getting you closer to your big goal, and as such, it should be celebrated.

For example, if you want to start running, don’t jump into a marathon. Start with short distances, and time yourself so you have something to compare against. In even a week or two, you could see an improvement in your speed, or you might not get as winded. That’s important to notice.

I’m doing this myself in terms of my ankle. At the end of June, I mentioned that I had broken an ankle bone,and it’s taken longer to heal than I had hoped. And all of my inactivity made my left ankle quite weak.

So while I have a bigger goal of being able to do some hiking next year, right now I’m starting very small and trying to get strength and balance back. I considered it a win this week to be able to balance by standing on my left foot for ten seconds straight, since a week and a half ago, it had only been 2-3 seconds. Tiny progress, but I’ll take it.

2: Write it down

Another way to celebrate is by writing down your small successes. This does a few things:

  • Reinforces the idea that the small win is worth celebrating

  • Helps you remember how much progress you’ve made

  • Gives you something to refer back to when you need a boost

Even if you don’t revisit those notes when you’re feeling down, it can be fun to revisit them at any time. As an example, I’ve been typing up old journal entries from 2002, and I found one where I was excited about being able to go up multiple flights of stairs without needing to stop or getting too winded. That was a nice reminder of how much things have changed for me.

3: Get yourself a gift

It can also help to reward yourself with a gift. This should ideally be something in line with the size of your accomplishment, so for smaller goals, it could be something small.

But it should also be something you’ll really enjoy.

When I was growing up, if I exercised a certain amount during the week, my mom would buy me a new paperback book. She knew that was a good motivation for me.

Maybe a book works for you, or some new music. If you have a creative hobby, it could be related to that, like buying new yarn, fancy scrapbooking supplies, new paint or paintbrushes, etc. Whatever works to keep you excited about hitting that goal.

4: Take time off

Your rewards don’t have to be tangible, though. You could also celebrate by taking time off from whatever it is you’re working on.

You don’t want to take off too much time since you could lose your momentum, but taking a break now and again helps. It gives you a chance to recuperate and get reinvigorated so that when you return to your goals, you’ll be able to better focus on them.

5: Make an award

Making an award for yourself might sound silly, but it can be a great way to acknowledge what you’ve done.

You can find lots of options online for designing your own trophy or creating your own certificate, and you can have a lot of fun with these. You can make them serious or playful, elaborate or simple, whatever suits your taste.

Giving yourself an award in this way helps satisfy the need for recognition, and it will keep you inspired to move forward.

6: Share with others

Sometimes you might feel embarrassed to share small wins with others. You might worry that it seems like bragging, or that you’re oversharing.

But if you pick the right people, they’ll be happy to hear about your wins and want to celebrate. This allows you to have a little party with that person, which is fun.

Even better, this can help make you feel accountable. Now that you’ve told someone else what you’re doing, you’ll be more committed to acting in a way that aligns with what you told them.

7: Express gratitude

Finally, take a moment to appreciate and feel grateful for what you’ve done.

This can be a good time to look back on what you’ve written down, so you can reflect on how far you’ve come. Focusing on the feeling of gratitude will make you feel calmer and happier. It will also help keep things in perspective, so you can keep going with the small steps and small wins.

You’ll also gain confidence in yourself because taking this time to feel gratitude solidifies in your mind just how far you’ve come.

All wins are worth celebrating

Too often, we only think about celebrating the big milestones and wins. It’s great to do that, but it’s also important to recognize the small victories along the way that got you there.

You can do this in many ways, keeping it as simple as writing it down, or being more elaborate by sharing with others or making an award for yourself. Find what works for you to keep you motivated so you can keep moving forward and ultimately meet your big goals.


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