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How To Celebrate Small Wins To Achieve Big Goals

How To Celebrate Small Wins To Achieve Big Goals

We all want to be successful in our goals and it’s these goals that put meaning into our lives – give us something to strive for and help better ourselves. But have you ever tried to reach a big goal with giving up as the end? Have you started working towards your goal but over time felt that it’s just too high a mountain to climb – how are you ever going to reach the top? Have you ever experienced the feeling that you’ve spent so long trying to achieve your goal but felt you’ve got nowhere with it?

If this is you then you’re not alone. As humans, we are built to naturally see the problems and easily punish ourselves for bad behaviour. Poor performances are quickly condemned in our minds and guilt can rise to the surface. Our mindsets 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? Successful people make huge achievements all the time so how do they do it? What makes them so different?

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.

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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.

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

Celebrate Small Wins

The key to success is realising 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 to that goal.

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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.

Demotivation usually comes because we are unsure of how far we are to our goals. 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 these sparks the reward circuitry of our brains and releases chemicals that gives us the feeling of pride, giving us the feel-good and happiness factor and makes us want to go further towards our next achievement.

Appreciation is Key

Appreciation can sometimes be played down in life and we tend to 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. Lack of appreciation and gratefulness can lead us down the slippery slope of not being able to see the importance of our small successes. 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.

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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 reinforcement 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. 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 and although these moments seem insignificant when determining whether you succeed or fail at something, 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. 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.

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5 Tips On Achieving Success

With all this in mind, it is the small steps we take 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.

  1. Break down large goals 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.
  2. Reward yourself with achieving small goals – Think about what you enjoy the most and do this each time you complete a step. This cold be anything from treating yourself to your favourite coffee, chocolate or even a trip somewhere. Having something to look forward to trains the brain into creating motivation.
  3. Don’t put pressure on yourself – Putting a deadline on your goals can lead to potential feelings of failure. Be relaxed with your time limits and this will increase your happiness and motivation.
  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 – seeing them written down can even be a reward in itself!
  5. Change your perspective – Sometimes 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 – this way you can visualise getting there a lot easier!

Featured photo credit: unsplash.com via pexels.com

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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