There are hundreds, if not thousands, of reasons to celebrate the various happenings life throws at us. From birthdays to anniversaries, holidays to retirements, and graduations to job promotions – these events seem to compel us to celebrate our accomplishments. In thinking about it, each of these moments are ‘grand’ in the sense that they may only happen once in our lifetimes.
So, we celebrate our birthday once a year. We gather with our friends and family when our parents reach their one and only 30th wedding anniversary. We congratulate our grandpa on his one time retirement after 40 years in the mill My family is rather big in numbers, so it seems that one of these ‘life-altering’ occasions is always on the calendar.
Today, as I celebrate the birthday of my best friend, I began reflecting on all of the ‘victories’ we have had together. The more I think about it, the more I realize I failed to celebrate the small, momentous events that helped us grow and allow us to set new goals for ourselves – personally and together.
What is a Small Victory?
It might sound silly, but you may be asking yourself, what exactly defines a small victory? Is it when your team wins the baseball game by one run? When you work all day long helping a friend out in the yard, and they pay you $20?
Honestly, it’s more than that – a lot more. Now you might be confused, but when I say more, I mean in the sense of how much it means to our own personal growth.
A small victory is wiggling your fingers for the first time after being paralyzed from the neck down.
A small victory is completing your first ever mile, regardless of how fast or slow it happened.
A small victory is navigating your way through a foreign country in your first international experience.
A small victory is a child speaking his or her first words.
A small victory is putting a smile on someone else’s face.
A small victory is finally completing your first calculus problem.
A small victory is learning something new about yourself.
A small victory is that ‘ah-ha’ moment when everything just seems to click.
A small victory is realizing how blessed you are to share this wonderful life with a significant other, family and friends.
I could spend the rest of the day citing examples as they flow endlessly into my mind, but I sense that everyone understands. The more you think about it, I’m certain you can recall several small victories you have had in the last couple of years, months or weeks. Hell, probably even in the last few days.
Now that you have had time to think about it, answer me this. Did you celebrate this accomplishment? This is not to say that a party had to be thrown, tables full of food had to be made or even a card had to be sent. Rather, did you look at yourself in the mirror and appreciate that moment? Did you commit yourself to growing from that experience? In your mind were you thinking, “Wow, I just did something I have never done before.”
I’m surrounded by people who don’t treat these small victories with enthusiasm or excitement. The damn truth is that I am probably the most guilty of not celebrating these mini-milestones. Maybe I sense that it’s too prideful to express joy in my own feats. But, neither myself or we as a community suppress these feelings. If anything, take a deep breath and smile.
The Importance of Small Victories
Mini-milestones are the catalyst for achieving major-milestones. They are the catalyst for continuing in our own personal growth and development, along with those around us. Small victories are necessary reminders that each day there is something that will occur that is pause for celebration.
Small victories can do this…
- Build our momentum and propel us towards the next step, the next goal.
- Minimize the opportunity for failure to creep in.
- Increase our confidence level.
- Encourage us to continually better ourselves.
- Enhance our lives, and if anything, bring a smile to our faces.
When not appreciated, small victories can do the opposite.
- Allow us to become stagnant, never striving for something new.
- Increase the possibility of feelings of failure when we don’t reach the next ‘big thing’.
- Cause our confidence levels to remain at baseline.
- Bring upon feelings of complacency and contentedness.
- Have our days run together, as everything begins to blend into one.
The Next Step
I remember a few months ago when I was in the process of determining a new career path. After months of puzzle pieces continually seeming to misalign, I had a couple opportunities, one of which has worked out tremendously. I became so caught up in the ‘finally, now what is next’, that I failed to relish in the moment when it all came together.
Aside from the support and congratulations from my family, two people in particular allowed me to appreciate the value of what had occurred. Jessica Reading and Mark Lacker both looked at me and said, “JJ, just sit down for a second and take a deep breath. This is a big deal. You have worked incredibly hard for this, and you deserve it.”
The big victory was getting a new opportunity in a growing industry, upon which I celebrated. The small victory was overcoming the months of struggle while submitting countless resumes and interviewing with a number of companies. The small victory was having the opportunity to begin anew. The small victory was maintaining my strength while dealing with adversity. Without the words of Mark and Jessica, I would have failed to celebrate this mini-milestone.
So, what are the next steps after a small victory? Quick and easy, here they are.
- Take a deep breath
- Relax your shoulders
- Spend 30 seconds reflecting on what happened
- Pat yourself on the back
- And, smile…
Because at the present, it’s the biggest damn victory of your life!
I stated it before with my own examples, and now I want to hear from you. Simply fill in the blank…
For me, a small victory is ______________________. Let’s hear it!