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Last Updated on May 16, 2021

How to Celebrate Small Wins to Achieve Big Goals

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How to Celebrate Small Wins to Achieve Big Goals

We all want to be successful in our goals and celebrate small wins along the way. Goals give our lives meaning and help us become better versions of ourselves. But have you ever tried to reach a big goal only to eventually give up? Have you started working towards your goal but over time felt that it’s just too high a mountain to climb?

As humans, we are built to naturally see the problems and easily punish ourselves for bad behavior. Poor performances are quickly condemned in our minds, and guilt can rise to the surface. Our mindset can bring us down when we feel we’ve failed, and this usually results in giving up on dreams and goals.

So what is the secret to achieving these goals (see our article on how to achieve goals)? Successful people make huge achievements all the time, so how do they do it? Most of it comes down to the way you view the goals and challenges put in front of you.

Perspective and Mindset

Many people may put the success of others down to luck or a natural talent that allows them to excel at what they want to achieve. Yes, this can be the case, but most of the time it is down to a particular mindset and way of looking at their goals as a whole.

Take Thomas Edison, the American businessman who invented the lightbulb. It took Edison almost 10,000 attempts to create a lightbulb—that’s a huge amount of “failures” before finally finding success. But in response to his repeated failures he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

In other words, he took his failures and turned them into successes because his perspective was focused on achieving rather than failing. It’s quite clear he had a mindset and positive perspective that allowed him to celebrate those small steps and see them as achievements.

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As I mentioned earlier, it’s very easy for us to put ourselves down for small mistakes and failures. What about our small wins successes? Well the irony of this is that, although we easily feel negative about failing, we almost never celebrate our successes, and this is where the magic lies.

Celebrate Small Wins

The key to success is realizing that our big goals aren’t going to happen overnight, in the next week or maybe even the next year, but this is okay. We tend to focus on the end goals rather than the small and significant steps we take to get us there.

This is why it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate small wins. The problem with not doing this is we end up diminishing our motivation, and motivation is what keeps us on the right path and gives us the strength to soldier on to the top of the mountain.

A lack of motivation usually arises when we are unsure of how far away from our goals we are. We sometimes blindly believe that the goal is still so far away when it could actually be just around the corner, something we will never know if we give up.

It’s, therefore, important to make sure you celebrate your small goals along the way. Acknowledging small wins sparks the reward circuits of our brains and releases chemicals that give us a feeling of pride and a happiness factor, making us want to go further towards our next achievement.

Appreciation Is Key

Appreciation can sometimes be played down in life, and we often forget to appreciate what we’ve done and what we have. Appreciating our small wins and the small steps we take can be the difference between failing and succeeding.

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Lack of appreciation and gratitude can lead us down the slippery slope of not being able to see the importance of our small wins. Celebrating the small stuff is us acknowledging that we are well on our way to achievement. In fact, we are achieving all the time, and it’s a myth that we are only successful once we’ve reached that elusive goal.

Creating Successful Habits

Successful habits equal success. We all know creating and changing habits can be hard as our minds find it difficult to adapt to new routines, but acknowledging and celebrating the small wins are how you help yourself establish the habits you need and to keep you going.

Our brains need positive feedback, so allowing yourself to be rewarded will develop an “addiction to progress” that will cause your brain to want to carry on to the next steps.

Acknowledge the Importance of the Present Moment

So what is the secret to a successful habit? It’s all about understanding the importance of the present moment and taking the time to celebrate small wins as they come. We tend to take the present moment for granted – it seems insignificant, and we believe the little things we do in the moment aren’t changing us.

You must invest in the small things over a long period of time and understand that you only have the moment you are in. It is the combination of moments over time that achieve the big things.

For example, say you want to learn a whole new subject. Reading 10 pages of a book today on this new subject will not significantly raise your knowledge, and maybe not even 10 pages tomorrow and 10 pages the next day. However, it’s the combination of all these moments of reading 10 pages a day that will eventually allow you to fully learn the new subject.

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In other words, reading those 10 pages a day may seem insignificant in the moment, but they are all important in the steps towards achieving your goal and learning how to focus.

How to Celebrate Small Wins

With all this in mind, it is the small wins we achieve that need to be acknowledged and appreciated for what they are. Motivation is a huge factor of whether or not we succeed, and being able to reward ourselves and celebrate small wins is the key. Here’s how to harness the power of small wins.

1. Break Large Goals Down Into Smaller Goals

You don’t want to focus on the bigger picture, as tempting as that can be. Make sure you create small, achievable goals that will allow you to see your progress more clearly, as these small successes will help you feel good with each little step.

When faced with a large goal, our minds can slip into the habit of procrastination. Smaller goals can help avoid this. You can also check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination to tackle this problem before it plagues your future goals.

2. Reward Yourself

Think about what you enjoy the most, and do this each time you complete a step. This could be anything from treating yourself to your favorite coffee or even taking a trip somewhere. Having something to look forward to trains the brain into creating motivation.

3. Don’t Pressure Yourself

Putting strict deadlines on your goals can lead to potential feelings of failure, even when there are small victories along the way. Be flexible with your time limits, and this will increase your happiness and motivation as you celebrate small wins.

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4. Track Your Progress

Writing down or tracking your progress will remind you of how far you’ve come in achieving your goal. Sometimes, we can give up because we are unaware of how close we are to success and forget how much we’ve done. Write down all the small wins, as seeing them written down can be a reward in itself.

5. Change Your Perspective

When we focus too much on the end goal, it can seem too far away to get to. Try thinking of it not as climbing a huge mountain, but descending one with perhaps a few nice restaurants (rewards) to stop off at and relax on the way down. Enjoying your incremental progress in this way will make long-term goals feel easier to achieve in the long run.

The Bottom Line

Learning how to celebrate small wins is key if you want to keep up your motivation while pursuing your goals. Each time you mark off a milestone, find a way to celebrate, whether it’s adding a star to that day on your calendar, treating yourself to a special meal, or going out with a friend. Goals are hard work, and you deserve a treat as you work toward them.

More Tips on Achieving Your Goals

Featured photo credit: Mert Guller via unsplash.com

More by this author

Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

How to Celebrate Small Wins to Achieve Big Goals Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset How To Overcome Self Imposed Limitations For Goal Setting To Reach Your Goals, Start With Planning For The Worst Why Setting Intrinsic Goals Can Make You Happier

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Published on September 16, 2021

What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

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What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

Ready. Set. Go. For years, this was my three-step mindset when it came to goals. I would reach for the moon and hope to land among the stars without feeling the pain of the fall. This approach was all or nothing, and as a result, I experienced loads of burnout and almost zero productivity. In short, my task list was filled with high-level intentions, but I hadn’t taken the time to create a map to reach the destinations. I was lost in the planning stages because I didn’t understand process goals or have any examples to follow.

Since then, I’ve learned how to embrace the journey and break my outcome goals into smaller and more manageable process goals. This approach has improved my focus and reduced frustration because I’m now working towards a surefire strategy that will take me where I want to go––I’m creating a plan of action with achievable daily targets (a process goal).

What Is a Process Goal?

A process goal is not a destination, it’s the path you plan on taking to get there. For example, if you want to become better at writing, your process goal would be to post one blog article per week and learn from the feedback you receive. The destination is a monthly goal of 12 articles.

This distinction is important because it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that these types of goals are not all or nothing. Think about it. You’ve heard it said: it’s not about working hard but working smart.

Well, a process goal is an actionable target with what we call SMART criteria:

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  • Specific – The more detailed your goal, the better. For example, instead of “I want to be fit,” you would say, “I want to lose five pounds.” Make sure your goal is crystal clear.
  • Measurable – You need a way to measure progress and success, so it needs to be quantifiable. This is where you decide what “fit” actually means for you (more on this later).
  • Achievable – If your goal isn’t challenging, then it’s not going to be motivating. On the other hand, there must be a steeper mountain to climb if you want substantial results.
  • Realistic – “I want to run a marathon” is not practical for most people. Ensure you have the time, energy, and resources (e.g., training program) required to achieve your goal.
  • Time-Bound – Your goal needs an assigned deadline or it’s just a pipe dream. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, but what happens when the fantasy ends?

To summarize, these are the essential components of any process goal: specific, measurable, achievable within a certain time frame, and realistic.

What Is a Destination Goal?

A destination goal is a point in time when you plan to be at a particular destination. For example, if your goal is to get to represent your country at the 2025 Summer Olympics, you right need to focus on smaller increments to attain that success. On your way to that goal, you need to focus on smaller destinations. First, make the national team. Then, compete in a few events and so forth.

If you try to make it to the Olympics from the very start without any milestones along the way, it would be too daunting. On the other hand, if you focus on each milestone as a destination goal, it will all seem possible and achievable.

Process Goal Template

Let’s say you want to become a better cook. Here is one way of writing the process goal: “I will save $100 per week by cooking all my meals at home for 12 weeks.” This would be your destination (monthly), and the steps required to achieve this goal (weekly) would be:

  1. Spend one hour on Sunday planning my meals for the week.
  2. Shop for groceries after work on Monday and Tuesday nights.
  3. Cook all meals at home on Wednesdays through Sundays.
  4. Pack my lunch for work on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  5. Save $100 per week in cash by cooking at home.

This process goal will help you become a better cook by teaching you to save money through planning, shopping, cooking, packing your own lunch, and trying new recipes. It also includes a weekly reward (saving $100 in cash) that will help you stay motivated.

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Process goals encourage you to reach your ultimate goals. When you feel like you can accomplish smaller goals along the way, you gain sustainability and confidence to move forward.

In many ways, process goals are a lot like faith. Each accomplishment brings you closer to seeing the fullness of the life that you desire––it breaks through the fog and makes things clearer.

What Questions Helped Me Find My Process Goals?

After several years of setting lofty goals and becoming increasingly frustrated when I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, I decided to take a closer look at my approach.

Now, there are many ways you can do this, but here’s how I went about it. Last year, I asked myself the following questions:

  • What am I doing right now?
  • How can I get better at this?
  • Is this process goal leading me closer to my ultimate goals?

The choices I made from the answers to these questions became my process goals. They were the driving force that kept me motivated and moving forward when I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. Since then, I’ve been able to accomplish lifelong goals that I had given up on years ago. For example, I’ve been able to obtain a publishing contract, create more digital products for my business, and enjoy the moment.

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Before I broke down my goals into smaller ones, I was struggling to just get out of bed. The thought of my endless list kept me stagnant. Now, I look forward to each morning and taking on smaller projects to reach profitable outcomes.

What Are Some Process Goals You Can Try?

So, now that you understand the importance of process goals, let’s get you started with some examples that you can utilize this week:

  • Sign up for a new class.
  • Complete one portion of your project by Thursday.
  • Start walking around the block instead of running a mile.
  • Improve your writing by spending 30 minutes everyday journaling.
  • Practice your interview skills.
  • Read at least one book from the library this week.
  • Do ten push-ups each day before you leave for work.

You get the idea. These process goals don’t have to be complicated. If anything, you want to break down your plans to the point of them feeling easy or at least doable without needing a week’s vacation. By breaking your goals down into smaller pieces, you can accomplish a lot more in a shorter period. You’ll also feel more confident that you’re able to accomplish something within the moment.

It isn’t easy to continue towards your goal if achievement feels too far away. You need to celebrate the small things and embrace the process.

What Do You Need for Process Goals?

Think about how much time and money you’ve spent on new clothes, books, technology, etc. Many of us want to keep up with the latest trends and purchase the best gadgets from Apple or Microsoft. But all of these extra investments come at a steep price.

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To find your process goals, you may have to face some difficult emotions or situations bravely and confront them head-on. You might need to forgo the new outfit or the latest Mac book to meet your overall objectives.[1] Remember, process goals not only protect you from feeling overwhelmed, but they also keep you from being distracted.

Final Thoughts

You may feel overwhelmed at first when trying to set a process goal. Sometimes, just thinking about change triggers stress hormones, which only leads to more worries and anxious feelings. However, if you keep yourself focused and take small steps in the right direction, you’ll soon realize that goals don’t have to be complicated.

You can achieve your process goals one day at a time, and you can start today by breaking down your larger goal into smaller steps. It doesn’t matter if the process takes a week or six months, what matters most is that you’re moving forward and doing something to make yourself better.

Now, go on out there and achieve one of your process goals!

Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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