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Last Updated on May 16, 2021

Small Victories: 4 Reasons to Celebrate Small Wins

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Small Victories: 4 Reasons to Celebrate Small Wins

Are you looking for ways to cultivate more motivation, engagement, or life satisfaction? Celebrating small victories consistently could bring the energy boost you need.

We all have big goals in life, like owning our own home, writing a novel, or building an NGO. Big goals are key to helping us find satisfaction in life, but when they are long-term goals, we can risk losing motivation and energy along the way. This is why celebrating small victories can be so essential for success.

What Are Small Victories?

First, let’s establish what a “small victory” is. Small victories are anything you accomplish that aligns with your intentions. They can be related to work, personal or professional relationships, habit changes, and or finances. Small wins can be easy to gloss over, especially if you’ve been raised on a diet of self-criticism and perfectionism.

Let’s say that you intend to be less judgmental of others. A small victory might simply be noticing when you start to think something judgmental about how someone else says the word “milk.” Even though the thought still popped into your head when they pronounced it “melk,” you at least noticed yourself in the thought.

Paying attention to your thoughts opens the door for you to question why everyone must pronounce words the same way. This is awareness, and as they say, awareness is the key to successful life changes.

Why Should We Celebrate Small Victories?

Instead of celebrating small victories, why not just wait for the big victories to sweep you to happiness?

Imagine that the doorbell rings, you answer it, and a spokesperson with way too much fake tan yells, “Congratulations, you have just won 3 million dollars!” Balloons and confetti fall around you. How would it feel to celebrate a big win like that?

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Surely, with that sum of money, you would not only feel motivated and engaged, but you’d also have everlasting happiness and fulfillment, right? According to research, people who win large sums of money are more satisfied with the quality of their lives overall.[1] However, they don’t experience more day-to-day happiness than anyone else—so much for big wins.

Small wins keep us on track and moving forward, which can help us avoid procrastination. If you find that this is a problem for you, you can also check out Lifehack’s Fast Track Class: No More Procrastination.

In fact, the internet is already abuzz with articles that extol the virtues of celebrating the small stuff. But happiness is only one of the dozens of reasons you should celebrate routinely.

The reasons for celebrating small can be broken down into the following categories.

1. Energy

When energy is low, it can be challenging to accomplish anything. Try as you might to set goals, without energy, it’s understandable why the couch would have so much more magnetic pull than the treadmill. When you celebrate your small victories, you will give yourself little hits of energy that will add up over time.

Try it right now for yourself: think of something small you achieved today. Maybe you took out the garbage even though it was really cold outside, you’re extremely tired, and you didn’t want to. Tell yourself, “I’m so proud of you for braving those terrible weather conditions to keep the house running smoothly.”

Or maybe you’re celebrating choosing tea over coffee in the afternoon. How does it feel to congratulate yourself? What does your body experience when you point out the little win to yourself?

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Over time, you’ll notice that the little celebrations inject you with boosts of energy that will accumulate. Although you’ll probably still hate taking out the garbage, you’ll at least have the energy to do it.

Once you start experiencing more energy, you might notice feeling more motivated to accomplish all those items—large and small—on your “to do” list. This becomes a positive feedback loop. You accomplish something, celebrate, increase your energy to accomplish more, and repeat. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that celebrating the small victories leads you to accomplish even bigger ones.

The opposite is also true. When you don’t accomplish the little things, imagine how much more challenging it will be to chip away at the big ones.

2. Personal and Professional Growth

Acknowledging small victories helps you keep track of how far you’ve come. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to instill a new habit or make a lifestyle change.

Behavioral changes can be some of the biggest challenges we undertake.[2] They can also be the most beneficial when you’re on the path to personal or professional growth and development. It can be easy to fall into the “all or nothing” trap.

For instance, a lot of people feel that if they can’t achieve a behavioral change—like quitting smoking—the first time they try, then they might as well give up.

Positive reinforcement through celebrating small wins helps you get back on track after taking a temporary detour. “I only had 3 cigarettes today” might be the small victory that would lead you to only having 2 tomorrow.

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Growth in any area of life is a process, and this process requires the use of tools. Celebrating the little things is an intentional tool you’ll want to use when you’re in the process of becoming the person you have been saying you want to be.

3. Self-Love

They say that education is the most important investment you’ll ever make. Imagine if you are trying to get your degree, but you self-criticize to the point of having major test anxiety. If you don’t offer yourself some patience and compassion, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at your education—you’ll never finish the degree!

Therefore, self-love is the greatest investment you will ever make.[3] You are the only person you will know for the entirety of your life. When you love yourself unconditionally, you will be able to navigate any life obstacle or storm. Celebrating your small victories is just one of so many ways to take care of yourself[4].

Self-Love Languages

    When people get married, they celebrate. On our loved ones birthdays, we celebrate. We celebrate because celebrations demonstrate our love for others. Therefore, when you actively celebrate small victories, you affirm the love you have for yourself.

    Celebrating your small victories is a powerful way to demonstrate that you notice how amazing you are. It helps you rely more on your own positive feedback rather than looking to the outside world to tell you what it thinks of you. Here’s something that nobody ever said: “People-pleasing is the gateway to the Kingdom of Joy.” Stop waiting for other people to tell you how incredibly valuable you are and start acknowledging all your little successes!

    As a side benefit, self-love has also been known to lead to better relationships with others.[5] It turns out that when you love yourself, you will show others how you want to be treated.

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    4. Happiness

    According to Jungian psychologist, Dr. James Hollis, our quest for happiness is actually not the focus of our lives. Instead, it would be in our best interest to design our lives around finding meaning.[6]

    So, why is happiness mentioned in almost every single article about celebrating small victories, including this one? Because it’s what we want. As it turns out, the path to what we want is not a direct one.

    According to Hollis, “Joy, and happiness, are not goals in themselves, but they are the by-product of those moments when we are doing what is really right for us.”[7]

    Happiness is a by-product! When we are fully engaged in our lives, our confidence runs higher, our actions match our intentions, our love for ourselves grows, and we experience a life filled with meaning. So, if you want to experience happiness, you must find ways to incorporate meaning into your life. Celebrating your little wins can be a catalyst for finding this meaning.

    Put another way, if you’re not ready to let go of the pursuit of happiness, try viewing happiness as something you practice.[8] And if you want a proven way to engage with that practice, try celebrating all of your small victories.

    Final Thoughts

    Consider keeping a daily log of your little victories. At the end of the week, you can read everything you celebrated, which will help you experience the accumulation of all the little wins. And if you want to experience an even bigger win, re-read your celebration journal at the end of the year!

    More Tips on Achieving Your Goals

    Featured photo credit: Paulette Wooten via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] NBER WORKING PAPER SERIES: Long-Run Effects of Lottery Wealth on Psychological Well-Being
    [2] Harvard Health Publishing: Why Behavior Change Is Hard – and Why You Should Keep Trying
    [3] Medical News Today: Why Self-Love Is Important and How to Cultivate It
    [4] Blessing Manifesting: Self-Love Languages, What’s Yours?
    [5] Psychology Today: Self-Love is the New #RelationshipGoals
    [6] Jung Society of Washington: It’s Not About Happiness
    [7] Jung Society of Washington: It’s Not About Happiness
    [8] Psychology Today: Happiness is a Practice, Not a Destination

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    Tess Miller

    Life transition coach who helps professionals who love what they do but aren't sure where it's going

    How to Face Emotional Triggers: A 5-Step Process Small Victories: 4 Reasons to Celebrate Small Wins How To Accept Responsibility For Your Life (7 No-Nonsense Tips) 8 Greatest Obstacles In Life You Must Overcome To Be Successful

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    Last Updated on September 27, 2021

    8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

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    8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

    The importance of effective goal setting cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success. This is why there are countless articles out there on how to set your own SMART goals and even why it’s a skill commonly taught to a small degree in classrooms.

    Learning the importance of goal setting and the benefits of sticking to those goals can be the defining factor determining whether we truly embrace the importance of goal setting. The more willing we are to embrace this method, the more likely we become to reach our personal definitions of personal and professional success.

    Thus, this article is going to walk you through some of the benefits you’ll see from learning to set goals for yourself and answer the question — why is goal setting important?

    1. Goals Guide and Align Our Focus

    It’s hard to get to where you want to be in life if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Some people believe avoiding goals means living a more care-free life. How many times have you heard the phrase “If I have no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed”?

    But is that really what our lives have come to? Living just to avoid disappointment? It doesn’t seem like an overly optimistic view in my opinion. And since you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you agree with me.

    Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.

    Without goals, we will pointlessly waste our time, energy, and efforts. Listen to anybody who is the top of their field and they’ll tell you something like this,

    “Yes talent is important, but often your success depends much more on what you decide to do with that talent.”

    And what you will do with your talent largely depends on your focus.

    Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for. This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward.

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    So, why is goal setting important? Because it gives you direction, alignment, and purpose!

    2. Goals Help You Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

    Basically, shiny object syndrome is always being in pursuit of the next big thing, constantly switching your goals based on what you feel is most fun and interesting at the given moment, but never actually giving yourself time to accomplish any of those goals.

    You don’t get anywhere because you continually change the direction you are heading in. This is one of the consequences that may result if you decide to live a life without goals.

    Your goals can sometimes help you to create mental barriers, or blinders, that help you to remain focused on what you think is important and avoid the things that are second priority. When you outline goals for yourself, you are better able to avoid things that distract you from achieving and accomplishing those goals.

    Setting goals helps you to step around the other shiny objects because you’ve taken the time to make some mental notes that remind you what it is that you want from your life. Your goals act as subconscious deterrents to anything less than your main priorities. This is what helps you to reach your personal definition of success.

    So, why is goal setting important? Because not only do goals tell you what you want from life, but they also help you realize what you need to give up and avoid to achieve that.

    3. Goals Turn Our Largest Goals into Manageable Steps

    A lot of us have big hopes and dreams. It’s one of the things that make our lives exciting!

    But a lot of us never take the time to figure out how we can effectively get from point A to point B. So, sadly, we never fully achieve those goals. We look at our dreams and convince ourselves that only a select few people ever achieve them, so we write ourselves off as people not meant to reach that level of success. Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating, daunting, and discourage us from even pursuing them.

    Thankfully, goal setting helps us break large intimidating goals into smaller ones. These small steps and more achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal. The form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families, and may even for our communities depending on how big your goals are!

    Whenever I get talking about this aspect of goal setting, I can’t help but think about the mountain climbing analogy, and that the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step by step.

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    So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting gives you a list of manageable steps that you can take in order to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to go both effectively and efficiently.

    4. Goals Encourage You to Take Action

    This builds on the last benefit of goal setting. Not only does effective goal setting help you break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, but it also encourages you to actually begin taking action on those goals. After all, a plan is completely worthless if you aren’t willing to invest the effort required to execute it.

    Setting your goals and putting your plan in place motivates you to begin taking action towards achieving them. These goals give you something to plan and work towards. Essentially, they help propel you forward.

    What I like to do is write out and place my goals somewhere that I’ll regularly see them. This constantly serves as a reminder of my top priorities. It allows me to focus on taking small progressive actions towards achieving these goals daily.

    This ensures that I don’t fall into the trap of setting a goal, beginning to work towards it for a while, but then having my motivation fade resulting in me falling off track. This is exactly what many people see happen when it comes to their “New Year’s Resolutions.”

    If you want to learn about how to take action towards achieving your goal, here’s how: How To Take Action Towards Your Goals Right Now

    So, why is goal setting important? Because goal setting actually motivates you to stop thinking about your goals and actually get out there and achieve them!

    5. Goal Setting Helps You Continually Improve

    This is something that a lot of personal development and self-improvement writers talk about, continual improvement. For those of you who are not aware of the term, continual improvement is exactly what it sounds like — taking small steps towards improvement as frequently as you can to develop into the person you want to become.

    What’s the point in improving a little bit each day if you’re not improving in the areas that you want to improve in after all?

    The goals that you define for yourself will inevitably shape you into the person who you want to become. They’ll shape your character. Your goals can help you measure your progress as you strive for this type of development.

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    Essentially, having goals helps you determine where you started, where you are now, and how much further you need to go. In this manner, your goal setting can serve as milestones and benchmarks that help you determine how well you’re progressing towards your most important goals!

    So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting helps you make improvements each day that will slowly transition you into the person you want to become.

    6. Goal Setting Keeps You Accountable

    Not only does setting goals help you measure your progress, but it also is a means through which you can keep yourself accountable. Too many goals fail because they lack this crucial aspect of outlining accountability.

    For example, if I have the goal to do 50 push-ups, that’s great. Most people would support that goal. However, this goal lacks accountability. When do I want to accomplish this goal by and what steps do I take to get there? These are important questions that the original goal leaves unanswered.

    A much more descriptive and specific goal could be to do 50 push-ups within the next 3 months by starting at 5 push-ups, and then adding 5 each week. This goal outlines the deadline as well as the steps I’m going to take to achieve it. This plan will keep me accountable because if I fail to retain my progression schedule, I will know that I’m not going to achieve the goal on time.

    Additionally, it can serve as a marker helping to signify when something is impeding my progress that I may not have initially accounted for. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and figure out what adjustments I can make to facilitate my success.

    So, why is goal setting important? Setting goals is key to keeping ourselves accountable and on-track towards accomplishing our goals according to the schedules and deadlines we set for ourselves.

    7. Goals Make You Feel Good

    Trust me, the progress you feel as you set and achieve goals can become super motivating and super addicting (in a good way)! The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!

    Having some clearly defined goals will help you to feel better about yourself and your life in general, especially when you stick to those goals, actively work towards achieving them, and end up accomplishing and surpassing your initial expectations. I’m not the oldest book on the shelf myself, but I can attest that there are not many feelings quite like the one you experience when you truly get on a roll!

    Additionally, our goals give us an endpoint to shoot for. Rather than progress for progress’s sake, you can actually see where you’re heading! That’s so much more rewarding. Think about a long car trip as a kid. You ask “if you’re there yet?” ever 20 minutes. It seems like the drive drags on forever.

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    If you don’t know where you’re going, you risk the journey becoming tedious. It doesn’t tend to be much fun wandering around aimlessly. Goals make us feel good about where we’re directing ourselves.

    So, why is goal setting important? Because setting goals and accomplishing them plain and simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lives!

    8. Goals Help You Live Your Best Life

    I’ve talked a lot in this article about how goal setting helps us progress towards our top priorities and live the way we truly want to live. So I think it’s fit to end the article with this goal because, in the end, I feel it’s the most important one.

    Setting your goals and clearly defining what they mean to you will help you live a life that is tailored to your beliefs and values. Your life will become directed towards the things that you most want to achieve.

    Life is a tricky game and only in very rare circumstances are things handed to us on a silver platter. Often it takes a great degree of work, planning, and effortful execution of both.

    There is no point clinging on to things in your life if they don’t bring you happiness or help you accomplish something that, in some way, aligns with your goals.

    Simply put, setting goals helps us live a life that allows us to pursue the challenges and rewards that we truly want to achieve.

    So, why is goal setting important? Because our time is always limited, and setting clearly defined goals can help ensure that you make the most of your life and live to the fullest! Find out more here: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the benefits of goal setting that outline why it truly is so important. If you take a moment or two, I bet that you can even think of a few more benefits yourself that you could add to this list.

    If I could leave you with something, it would be this:

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    Goal setting has the potential to take us to some amazing places in life because we all have talent and ambitions. To achieve your biggest dreams, you need to be willing to sit down and create a life design uniquely tailored to you that will help you achieve them!

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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