Tiny Accomplishments

by Sirenna Patapis

It’s hard. It’s hard to balance a social life and working late. It’s hard to find time to go to the gym. It’s hard to always find healthy options for lunch. It’s hard to get your kids to school on time. It’s hard to make time for the things that bring us joy. It’s hard to pay off debt and also save for that vacation you have been dying to go on. It’s hard to stop worrying and be in the present moment. It’s hard to be in bed by nine and get a good night’s sleep. It’s hard not to compare ourselves to other people and think, “I wish I was doing as well as them.”

It’s overwhelming and exhausting to try and balance all these things on a daily basis.

What if…instead of focusing on trying to be good at all these things at once, we celebrated the small wins that we accomplish every day.

We all have goals that we are trying to meet. Whether it’s getting a promotion at work, losing weight, being a good parent, or all of the above, we are constantly trying to achieve many things at once. We often don’t think of ourselves as successful until we’ve crossed the finish line.

Instead of measuring our success by the final outcome, we need to learn how to reward ourselves along our journey. It’s interesting how if we make a small mistake, we’re quick to be hard on ourselves, but if we make a small win, we overlook it and don’t really give it the recognition it deserves

Teresa Amabile from The Harvard Business School studied the best way to drive innovative work inside organizations: Amabile and her colleagues found through the analysis of diaries kept by workers, that tracking small wins throughout the day boosted workers motivation. In turn, the practice of recording and appreciating these small wins lead to workers more likely to be productive in the long run and achieve higher success. (1)

She also discovered that progress and setbacks influence all aspects of life. Amabile explained, when workers experienced progress, the participants reported more positive emotions. They not only were in a more upbeat mood in general but also expressed more joy, warmth, and pride. However, when they suffered setbacks, they experienced more frustration, fear and sadness. They were also less likely inclined to be motivated to do work at all from experiencing these setbacks. (1)

Small progress is still progress that is reinforcing positive changes into the person we are trying to become. If we focus on the end goal, then we are much more likely to get discouraged quicker and feel like our goals are unattainable. However, celebrating small wins is key to our success and also our mood. Small wins are what keep us going and make us feel good. Tracking our progress is so important because the little steps add up to huge accomplishments. Even a small win can make all the difference in our personal growth and confidence.

We feel good when we get in the daily habit of taking our vitamins every morning.  We feel good when we drink enough water a day. We feel good when we put small amounts of money aside at a time. We feel good when we make time for that phone call with mom. We feel good when we get out of bed without having to snooze our alarm. We feel good when we put our phones in another room during dinner and enjoy time with our family. We feel good when we take the stairs instead of the elevator. We feel good when we simply just do our best.

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