Enjoy the little wins, every step of the way

Quick Notes

  • No victory is too small to celebrate.

  • Honoring little wins leads to increased motivation.

  • Reward yourself now for progress later.

Treating yourself seems like an easy feat. However, when’s the last time you took part in a celebration? While many people think only major accomplishments or events deserve to be commemorated, that’s far from the truth. In reality, there’s no achievement too small to celebrate. In fact, celebrating the small victories in your life can lead to staying in the present moment and more successful long-term achievements. So, are you ready to start celebrating your little wins?

Start living in the now

There’s no time but the present, and that’s especially true for celebrating little wins. In today’s age, it can be easy to get sucked into the expectations for the future. “I’ll be happy once I finish my degree,” or “I can celebrate once I hit my goal weight,” are just a few examples of the things we tell ourselves about the future. But, have you ever considered how this can affect you in the present moment?
Taking the emphasis off the progress you’re making now is actually keeping you from enjoying yourself in the future. There will always be things we want to accomplish in life. The secret is to make sure we’re enjoying every bit of progress along the way.
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Celebrating little wins – amongst friends or just by yourself – is critical to staying in the moment. What’s more, you’re even more likely to enjoy the present moment when you reward yourself accordingly. Enjoying small victories doesn’t have to be expensive, either.
Rewarding yourself for little wins can mean splurging on a glass of wine with dinner, relaxing in a warm bath, or making a cup of your favorite tea. The only requirement is that you enjoy celebrating your little win in your own, special way.

Reward yourself now for long-term success later

A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that rewarding yourself immediately (i.e. for the little wins in your life) actually helps you stay on task.
“The idea that immediate rewards could increase intrinsic motivation sounds counterintuitive, as people often think about rewards as undermining interest in a task,” Kaitlin Woolley, one of the study’s researchers, said. “But for activities like work, where people are already getting paid, immediate rewards can actually increase intrinsic motivation, compared with delayed or no rewards.”
What’s more, people get a sense of fulfillment from the task post-reward, creating more motivation to keep them going. Woolley said rewarding oneself creates a positive experience, which can affect how the rest of the goal is accomplished.
“The idea that immediate rewards could increase intrinsic motivation sounds counterintuitive, as people often think about rewards as undermining interest in a task,”Kaitlin Woolley, one of the study’s researchers, said. “But for activities like work, where people are already getting paid, immediate rewards can actually increase intrinsic motivation, compared with delayed or no rewards.”
These little wins don’t seem so little anymore, do they? When it comes to creating a life you love living, every accomplishment is worth celebrating. Whether it’s finalizing a work proposal, getting all your errands done, or simply staying within your monthly spending budget, the little wins mean everything. So pop open that bottle of wine, make those dinner reservations, or spoil yourself with an iced coffee. You’re worth it, and all of your little wins are, too.

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:

Treat yourself and grow as a person at the same time.

How to recognize burnout and create solutions that work to refresh you.

Finish what you start, every single time.