Ever heard the saying ‘Success is not a destination, it’s a journey’? When we think about accomplishments, we often focus on how good we feel when we achieve a long-term goal or experience a major breakthrough.
These big wins are great—but they are fairly rare. The good news is that even small wins can give you a spike in positive mood and self-esteem!
Celebrating small wins is an important way to track incremental achievements and work toward much larger goals. Also, it makes you feel good all the more regularly. In a study discussed by Harvard Business Review, nearly 12,000 diary entries from 238 employees across seven companies were analysed to see how everyday life inside organisations can influence a person’s performance. They found that when a worker crosses off minor to-dos from their list, it enhances their motivation. Simply recording progress in some way helps to boost self-confidence and can be put to use toward future successes. This simple recognition can help build momentum and drive you forward to accomplish much larger tasks later on.
The other positive is getting that flood of dopamine each time something is checked off your list, regardless of how minor. Neurologically, when you achieve something, it activates the reward centre of our brains, allowing us to feel a sense of pride. Dopamine is a neurochemical that releases and energises us with feel-good emotions. This chemical helps you to experience the feeling of getting rewarded, and can hook you on wanting to accomplish more. Who doesn’t want to feel that sense of accomplishment more often!?
It may seem inconsequential or uncomfortable to celebrate something as seemingly unimportant as meal prepping, however, you’re not necessarily celebrating the achievement itself; you’re celebrating your good behaviour – similar to how your parents used to congratulate you for brushing your teeth when you were young. So, take the time to acknowledge what you’ve accomplished and feel good about it.
If you don’t pause to appreciate them and simply rush from one task to another – then it’s easier to become exhausted and demotivated. When you show appreciation for your small successes, you show appreciation for yourself too, which everyone should make time for.
It’s also important to recognise that small victories vary from person to person, and what may seem small to you could mean so much more to someone else. You may want to consider some light bragging to mark the achievement, to help reflect on how far you’ve come from the start of a project. Sharing your wins may also inspire others to reach for their goals – so everybody wins!