Wisdom//

Try These Creative Ways to Celebrate Your Small Wins

When it comes to committing to a new habit, research shows that honoring each small success is key to lasting change.

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BJ Fogg, Ph.D., the author of Tiny Habits and founder of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford, has spent his career researching how human behavior works. His thinking aligns with Thrive Global’s own behavior change approach, which is all about taking small, science-backed Microsteps to make immediate changes in your daily life. One of Fogg’s fundamental steps of behavior change is celebrating each small win, so that your brain associates it with positive feelings. 

We asked our Thrive community to share the creative ways they honor their own successes as they work toward a larger goal. How will you reward yourself for each step in the right direction? 

Share it with people you love

“I share my wins with a close group of family, friends, and colleagues! I don’t think we celebrate our small wins enough. There’s something really validating and affirming when you share your successes with those that support you fully.”

—Richelle Fredson, founder of Purposeful Platforms, New York, NY

Repeat a celebratory mantra

“Every time I complete a Microstep, I repeat the phrase, ‘You’ve accomplished more than you had ten minutes ago!’  This reminds me to take a deep breath and move on to the next task or project that needs my attention. By the end of the day, I feel like I’ve had multiple wins on my way towards the larger goal.”

—Kaleen Skersies, real estate development, Seattle, WA 

Take a recovery day

“I’m working to get more nutrition and movement into my life, and it’s been a lifelong struggle for me. This month, I scrapped a lot of my old ways and revamped my goals into five simple, achievable habits each day. I now look at success as a five day streak, no matter how little of one thing I’ve done. On the sixth day, I give myself a recovery day, where I back off exercise a bit and do something more slow and mindful with my body. Taking the moment to step back and think about how it feels to be on the other side of another five days feels good all by itself, whether it’s feeling less pain, less stress, more mobility, or better stamina.”

—Kristin James, creative strategist, Brooklyn, NY

Acknowledge each effort

“When I set a goal, I create a plan with specific milestones to hit.  Like many other entrepreneurs, I sometimes set goals that are not completely within my control, like selling a certain amount of tickets to an event. Yet I can control the number of times I post, share, email, and talk to people. By hitting these smaller milestones, I can celebrate my persistence, resilience, and ability to follow through no matter whether I succeed or fail at the ultimate goal.”

—Lindsay Tabas, product-market fit expert and startup strategist, Philadelphia, PA

Unplug for the night

“It can feel invigorating to have a win in business, but it can also be tempting to want to continue working into the night. When I want to celebrate a success, I unplug from tech, get out into nature, and treat myself to quality time with friends, a new restaurant, and taking in the holistic value of the life I’m building, which isn’t 100% work.”

—Stephanie Thoma, networking strategy coach, San Francisco, CA

Take a gratitude pause

“For me, nothing beats the power of practicing gratitude to celebrate those small wins. I find it helpful to take the time to pause, reflect, and appreciate my effort. Being grateful for these small successes brings a deeper connection to the work I am doing each and every day. Celebrating these wins with gratitude makes me happy, and reminds me of my purpose.”

—Gail Smith, health and wellness coach, U.K.

Tell a friend

“The best way for me to celebrate any success, no matter how small, is to tell my closest friend, who always celebrates my wins with me. I can share my excitement, get advice, and most of all, be reminded that I am already a success, regardless of what comes outwardly. In sharing my wins with someone I trust, I can get the reinforcement and encouragement that the reason the success came is because of who I already am!”

—Jenna Tidd, freelance proofreader and writer, Denver, CO

Write it down

“I journal. I write down in detail what brought me to achieve that small success. It helps me stop and remember to be proud of myself, and also replicate in the future that same state of focus, motivation, and purpose that brought me to achieve that goal in the first place. Most importantly, it helps me map out the journey toward my larger goal.”

—Francesco Onorato, marketing, Phoenix, AZ

High-five your partner

“One of the ways I celebrate small victories towards a goal is sharing them with my spouse. We will high-five or share a celebratory ‘Woohoo!’ no matter how small the victory. By sharing the celebration with each other, I feel a sense of pride and also accountability. This makes me strive for more victories we can share together.”

—Brittany Olson, writer, Scottsdale, AZ

Create a “team wins” report

“I celebrate small successes with the team at my agency, and we have a structure for doing this. Aside from knowing our big company goals, we compile a ’Team Wins’ report every month. Throughout the month, we each take screenshots of our mini-wins, which might be website improvements, client feedback, coverage we’ve secured, or cool social media posts we’ve designed. These are then turned into a monthly report, which is shared with our whole team.”

—Jodie Cook, social media agency owner, Birmingham, UK

Schedule a fun night out

“The nature of my work requires that I meet deadline after deadline. It can sometimes feel anticlimactic moving from one deadline to the next. So I’ve begun to look ahead at my calendar and book an outing with a friend for the night of an upcoming deadline. It is a powerful motivator to help me complete my work on time, and a great way to celebrate my efforts!”

—Molly Biehl, writer and coach, San Diego, CA

Try the “Friday 5”

“Our family has a Friday 5 ritual, where every Friday at 5:00 pm we shut off our electronics, shut down the businesses, grab our favorite beverage, and celebrate our successes of the week. For my husband and I, it can be as big as getting a new client contract or as simple as making time for our workouts each week. For our six-year-old, it could be remembering to put his underwear in the hamper. It’s my favorite moment when one of us looks at the clock and shouts, ‘Friday 5!’”

—Lisa Pezik, business strategist, Ancaster, ON, Canada

Text a friend

“I make it a major point to share my milestone success out loud with a friend. It is both for me to hear the words, and for them to realize that small victories are important too, and we should support each other. Doing this has created an open dialogue with the people I love of acknowledging small successes instead of constantly venting about daily woes or drama 24/7. Now I have friends who text me even if they simply chose to stay in and get some rest, helping themselves towards their lifelong goal of putting themselves first. It’s a huge shift!”

—Rose R., life coach, Chicago, IL

Celebrate the losses, too

“A wise driver once told me that ‘no’ stands for ‘next opportunity.’ This quote epitomizes how I celebrate my small wins. I actually celebrate losses, too, to push me further, and to keep aiming for my larger goal. Whenever I get a rejection, I send it to my husband to celebrate. We actually cheer when I get turned down. We look forward to these turndowns because it means I tried, and eventually there will be a ‘yes.’  I’ve learned that in most things I’ve strived for in life, you have to at least try in order to fail.”

—Joyel Crawford, public speaker, Haddon Township, NJ 

How do you celebrate your own small wins on the way to a larger goal? Share it with us in the comments!

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