How to celebrate your successes

I am feeling grateful to have been asked to be ‘The Expert’ in my networking group Drive The Network. Each week one of the members’ features and answers questions from the rest of the group. When Ann asked me she also asked me to provide a topic and I thought for a few mins before saying ‘how to celebrate your successes’.

Turns out, it was a popular topic but there was definitely a theme – one which I hadn’t expected. I had considered that people don’t ordinarily celebrate their success, most commonly not mentioning for fear of coming across as boastful. What I hadn’t considered was that people don’t know how to celebrate success. There were questions such as:

  • What if I don’t want to review?
  • It feels really awkward to look at my successes – how do I get past those thoughts?
  • How do I celebrate if things haven’t turned out as planned?
  • How do you not feel bad if things slow down?

Wowsers. I love it. We all spend so much time being busy. We achieve a goal and immediately move onto the next. Taking time out to reflect can seem like another thing on the to-do list and really, who has time for that?

Why celebrating your success is critical

Celebrating success, ginormous or minuscule can feel hard sometimes but it is critical to going on and reaching even bigger goals and achievements. Why? Because we build on success and we learn from the things that don’t work (hopefully).

Each time we achieve a goal and celebrate it, we want more. I lead a couch to 5K running group and as I watch them progress I see their faces light up as they do something they couldn’t believe possible…then they start talking about what they’re going to achieve next.

As we reflect and review we hone our rituals, processes and develop habits that make our goals sustainable and achievable. We are able to build consistency…my word for 2020 in fact. My partner told me about a book called Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? in it, they talk about the things we do that make 1% difference and if we do more of those, it all adds up. That’s a blog post for another time.

How to celebrate your successes

Celebrating looks different for everyone and is different depending on what you’ve achieved. I ask my clients how they celebrate their successes and here are some of their responses:

  • I drink a coffee, uninterrupted and reflect on what I have achieved
  • I use a journal to note down my weekly successes so that I can look back and see what’s gone well over the months and years
  • Treating myself is my celebration. I go and get a manicure or book a spa day with friends
  • I really enjoy watching my favourite TV programme whilst snuggled up under a blanket
  • Chocolate! I always celebrate with chocolate – good quality, expensive chocolate. It feels like such a treat
  • If I have achieved a goal with the help of others, I like to celebrate with them. We might go for a nice dinner or book a team activity

Celebrating your success needn’t cost money or lots of time – although it can. You might choose a different celebration depending on the goal you’ve achieved; as long as it works for you. You might celebrate on your own or with your loved ones and/or colleagues. I once received some gift vouchers as a thank you for all my hard work and I bought a kitchen mixer – every time I use it I remember how I got it.

What if I don’t feel like my achievements are worth celebrating?

We are conditioned to punish ourselves for bad behaviour. You only have to look at the threat of Santa not coming if we’re not good to see we start at an early age. It doesn’t matter how small the mistake, that’s the thing that we focus on. In fact, how can we ever improve if we look at the things we’re good at? Surely the answer is in the things that we need to do better. (If you feel this way…please, please get in touch. There is another way.) When we make a mistake we are quick to punish ourselves and when we achieve success we are slow to celebrate. This decreases our motivation and actually hinders our long-term goals.

Celebrating the small wins

It can feel silly to celebrate things that don’t feel like an achievement like getting outside for a run or clearing the kitchen before we go to bed or completing a meditation session. But the thing is, you’re not celebrating because you’ve made some huge achievement. You’re celebrating because you’re successfully changing your habits. You’re celebrating because of who you are becoming.

Building resilience

As we stop and celebrate our successes, no matter how trivial they seem we buffer ourselves against the more challenging stuff that’s going on. We build on the positive emotions and that can help us get through the day to day stuff.

When things haven’t gone to plan

When things haven’t gone the way you hoped, you thought or you planned it can feel rubbish. If things slow down, similarly it can feel disappointing so why would you celebrate? For me I think it’s a bit like practising gratitude, you need to look for the good. If things haven’t gone well – was there anything that did? What is the lesson? Sometimes it’s what we learned that’s so important. If things have slowed down, celebrate that! Sometimes we need a break and sometimes it needs to be enforced! Think about what you’re most proud of – some days that might be hanging on in there. Celebrate that.

It feels weird to celebrate my successes

I think that the weirdness comes from our ideas on self-worth and whether or not we suffer from imposter syndrome. For some people celebrating their achievements adds more pressure – to do more, to be more. They might feel exhausted and overwhelmed thereby making it harder to feel successful. Also, there may be feelings around not knowing what we want to achieve and so what to celebrate? My advice in these situations would be to:

  1. Think about what’s important to you – use your values to define your successes and how you celebrate. Make a list if you like.
  2. Start small, like a gratitude practice, find something every day and write it down, no matter how silly it feels (those feelings will eventually disappear)
  3. If you can’t start with yourself, celebrate others’ successes. Point them out if they don’t see them, thank people for their hard work, take your team out for a coffee – whatever feels good. It’s sometimes easier to focus on others first.
  4. Each time it feels weird, acknowledge it. It’s OK that it feels weird, that feeling will pass. Think about where in your body you feel it. If you can, think about where the thought may have originated. If you think it might be a limiting belief then challenge it.

I hope you can see the benefits of celebrating your successes. I would love to hear how you celebrate and what you’re celebrating. Comment below or find me on social and let me know!

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