One thing we suck at,” I told Kat and Shauna over dinner last week, “is celebrating the little things.” Shauna looked at me, her fork halfway to her mouth. “I know what you mean,” she said.
“We’ve done so much as a group,” I continued. “We’ve taught over 500 women, we launched Home School, we just threw a massively successful party, we have plans in the works for so many other things, and yet… It feels like we never REALLY stop to acknowledge our progress. Maybe because we still feel like we have so far to go, or maybe it’s just because when we see each other, it’s all go-go-go… I don’t know. I just think we need to sit back and take stock and be proud of ourselves.”
I kept thinking about it long after I mentioned it. And I wasn’t the only one: it was a topic that came up in class, too. In Amsterdam, as I was doing my rounds, Mariëlle, a Dutch girl with an infectious smile, asked me, “How do I stay motivated to go for my big goals when they feel so far away?”
Sometimes we allow ourselves to get distracted by the big goal, which looks almost infinitesimally small because it feels so far off. We get so focussed on the grand plan, the overwhelming purpose — whether that’s to make a few million and retire in Boca Raton, or help women restructure their work/life balance — that everything else fades into the background. Our big aspirations overwhelm us, and because they’re more like 10 or 20 year goals, rather than something we hope to achieve in the next six months, it can start to feel impossible. No wonder, then, that we feel exhausted, burned out, clobbered by our own ambition. How could we not?!
Learning to celebrate your small successes is a essential part of entrepreneurship. Don’t let your big goal blind you to the fact that you are doing awesome work, right here, and right now. Make time to pop a bottle, and be proud of yourself! It’s not just okay to reward yourself along the way, it is vital.
If you don’t, burning out is the inevitable conclusion.
Make no mistake: not every step of the way is going to be a smash hit, a home run, a Hollywood ending. But even when you don’t attain the results you dreamed of, you always learn something from putting in the effort. Maybe you’ll learn that you need better workflow, or that this particular product doesn’t scale. Perhaps you’ll stumble upon a way to improve your customer service, or make some cold, hard realisations about pricing. It doesn’t matter what you learn, as long as you take something away from the experience.
Don’t think of success in such black and white terms: success is anything that helps you make better decisions in the future.
5 ways to recalibrate your view of success
At the end of each week, look back at the things you’ve accomplished. Take stock: what went well, and what areas could have used improvement? Write it all down! Think about how you can make incremental refinements next week, and then celebrate the highlights. Take a luxurious bath, enjoy a cocktail, or just lie down on the couch and contemplate your progress (and general magnificence)! This isn’t egotism, it is self-reflection, and it is essential. You’ve earned it, babe!
Don’t just look at the big goal: remember to break it down into small goals and targets that you can hit next week, next month, next year. When you check one off a list, go and make merry in whatever way appeals to you most!
Have regular (weekly? Monthly?) discussions about your goals with a friend or a lover. Even if you feel like you haven’t made a lot of progress, making a point to hash it out with someone else will help you realise just how far you’ve come.
Keep a running tally of your accomplishments somewhere that you can see them! Think of it as a gratitude list for your awesomeness. When you’re feeling discouraged or overwhelmed, have a glance at it, and you’ll remember how capable and clever you really are.
Make a list of rewards you can bestow upon yourself when you’ve made some progress you’re proud of. You could even keep a little drawer full of cute things you can gift yourself that will make you happy and keep you striving: something as simple as a delightful notebook or a fat fuchsia marker are a nice way to honour yourself.
Don’t forget to enjoy all the miniature triumphs along the way to your finest hour. The old saying is true: happiness is a journey, not a destination. If you can find pleasure in the process, your life will feel more meaningful, and you’ll smile more often! Nothing’s better than that.
Photos by Made U Look.