5 Unconventional Ways to Celebrate Small Wins (You Won’t Enjoy Success Without This)

This is my 55th blog post so far in my daily blogging project.

I mentioned that to a friend and he asked me “Did you celebrate reaching 50 blog posts?”

I hadn’t. In fact, I hadn’t even noticed.

I have a very hard time celebrating small victories. When I reach a milestone along the way I say to myself “I haven’t achieved the big milestone yet, so I don’t deserve to celebrate”

Of course this is pathetic. And the fact is, if you aren’t good at celebrating small victories, you not be any good at celebrating large ones.

With this attitude it’s easy to turn your work into a drudgery, putting off your happiness to some distant pay-off.

So today, let me now acknowledge my 50th blog post and share 6 ways you and I can celebrate the small wins in our life.

1. The Jar of Awesome

In an interview with Chase Jarvis, Tim Ferriss mentioned the idea of a “Jar of Awesome” where you write down small wins on a piece of paper and put in a jar. Then you can revisit these small wins later.

I think this is a good idea, because by writing it on paper you are making it physical and giving it significance. And by re-reading it at a later date, you get double the value from the accomplishment.

2. Write down what you achieved at the end of the day.

Every weekday, I write down 3 things I accomplished for the day.

I started doing this because I noticed I had a tendency to finish a day and feel like I had got nothing done.

Writing down 3 things makes me realise what I have accomplished in the day and I feel much better about my progress.

3. The reward held for ransom

Get a reward for yourself. This can range from things like:

a. A small gift for yourself

b. A massage

c. Tickets to a movie or show

Then give them to someone else, and say you can only get them back if you achieve your goal.

4. Attach a usual pleasant event to the accomplishment.

My wife and I often go out for dinner. So a good thing to do would be to make the dinner a celebration of a particular accomplishment. Sure, we might have been going out anyway, but it makes the dinner extra special to associate it with something you achieved.

You can do take this further and make your usual lunch a reward for the morning’s work.

5. Give yourself time

An easy reward to give yourself is allow yourself time to do something very mundane and trivial that you are always putting off.

For example, I always put off cleaning my desk because there are always more important things to do.

A small reward could be to give myself an hour to focus on that, without feeling guilty I should be doing something else.

Some things to beware of when celebrating small wins

a. Make sure that you explicitly make the connection between the accomplishment and the reward (e.g. Saying “This restaurant dinner is for completing that project”).

b. Be diligent about ensuring the reward happens.

A client of mine achieved a very significant goal in March, and she made a plan to go hot air ballooning in France.

However it’s June now and she still hasn’t done it. What message does that send to herself? That she’s not worth rewarding?

c. Quiet the negative self-talk

You will probably have self-talk about how you don’t deserve the reward yet. Or that you’re being silly rewarding yourself.

For instance when I go to write down 3 things I’ve achieved for the day, there’s a little voice that ALWAYS says “This is so stupid”. And yet, I know when I write down what I have done for the day, I feel better.

So who cares if it’s stupid. It works.

Make a plan for celebrating small victories

It’s very easy to give reasons not to celebrate small wins. But if you don’t develop this habit, you will be eroding your happiness.

I suggest setting aside some time today (put a calendar reminder on your phone) and then plan some rewards for activities you’re doing now.

Once you’ve done that, be sure to follow through on rewarding yourself when you’ve done the tasks.


Photo credit: Jared Erondu