(This blog has been written by Christina Gillett, an accredited Transformational and Physical Intelligence coach with a background in community engagement and development, specialising in helping her clients make changes in their lives, careers and as leaders (in whatever capacity that leadership exists).
Celebration is not just fun and games: It’s a key part of your success strategy, helping you to maintain your motivation and ultimately to achieve those big goals.
“Small wins can be easy to gloss over, especially if you’ve been raised on a diet of self-criticism and perfectionism.”Leon Ho, CEO of Life Hack
We tend to assume that we will celebrate when we finally, victoriously, achieve our goals. In reality, goal posts move or we just go straight onto the next goal, and celebrations often get missed. Actually, if we celebrated not just the final success, but more of the small wins along the way, we might increase the likelihood of making it to the triumphant finale in the first place.
Small wins and the progress principle of motivation
“Inner work life drives performance; in turn, good performance, which depends on consistent progress, enhances inner work life. We call this the progress loop; it reveals the potential for self-reinforcing benefits.”Amabile and Kramer, Harvard Business Review
Researchers analysed 12,000 diary entries of knowledge workers and discovered that a sense of progress was the biggest predictor of motivation, and the more frequently they experienced this, the more creatively productive people were over time. In particular, on days when they made progress, intrinsic motivation was higher (they were motivated by interest in and enjoyment of the work itself). The researchers noticed that big mood boosts – satisfactory and even elation – followed even small steps of progress – which they noted as helpful considering big wins tend to occur rarely.
Shifting your attention, and your perspective to “I’m on track”
For humans, perception and where we focus our attention, play a huge part in our experience, and as a consequence, our actions. People who feel like they’re not making progress often become demoralised, and start doubting the whole project or their ability to achieve it – and soon progress really does drop.
By celebrating your small wins and small steps forward, you are drawing your attention to progress and shifting your perspective from “I’m not getting anywhere because I haven’t achieved my goal”, to, “I can see the progress I’m making and I’m on track”. Then you carry on.
Momentum and self-esteem
Because of the well-documented human tendency towards a negativity bias, we are more likely to notice the set-backs or lack of progress unless we intentionally shift our attention onto the positive. Celebrating progress regularly can help to maintain momentum and consistency – whereas once you are demoralised it can be quite energy-intensive to pick things up again.
Benjamin and Sarah Cheyette, a psychiatrist and ADHD specialist neurologist say this strategy is especially effective for people with ADHD. By deliberately setting achievable, micro-goals you have many more opportunities to experience success. And each time you succeed, and celebrate a goal, it builds self-esteem, hope and motivation for the future. This generates momentum which helps you to achieve the larger and long-term goals. This is likely to be true for you even without ADHD (especially considering many of us have ADHD tendencies even without a diagnosable condition).
This blog post has generally focused on celebrating progress and small wins to maintain motivation. But as you get into the habit of celebrating, just celebrate everything!
- Be a form of gratitude or savouring, boosting positive emotions.
- Increase resilience – you’re more aware of the resources that you have if you’re celebrating them – making you more lily to make effective use of them.
If your celebration includes what Companies In Motion calls a ‘Winner Pose’ this will also help to encode that feeling of success in your body, and a sense of your own power and capability. The winner pose is what many athletes naturally do when they succeed: arms up in the air, wide stance. Although the research is mixed on the endocrine effect of an expansive posture, it is extremely consistent on finding that expansive postures boost confidence and perception of ability. There is also lots of research showing how people respond to those who have an expansive posture: they treat them like leaders.
Here are some ideas to stimulate your celebrations this week:
- Buy someone a coffee to celebrate having them in your life. (Boosting resilience by recognising resources).
- Print a photo of a flower to celebrate its appearance in your garden. (Savouring).
- Have a celebratory cup of tea and sheers yourself for getting the MOT done on time.
- Make yourself a note to stick on your fridge with drawings of stars and balloons and dancing stick people to celebrate the progress you made on the project.
- Adopt Winner Pose to celebrate that you finally solved that problem that’s been bugging you.
- Book yourself a coaching session with me to celebrate being ready to take a step forward in your life, career or leadership journey.
I’d love to hear about your small and micro-wins, or anything else you are celebrating at the moment.
Cheers to fun and progress!