Last week marked some big milestones for two of my clients: one launched the new business that she's been building behind the scenes for three months, and the other stepped into a new leadership role that she hadn't imagined possible before we began our work together.
I asked each of them: How did you celebrate?
They stared at me blankly.
It's too easy to put off celebrating success. We move right on to the next thing, or treat it like it doesn't count yet by saying, Well, I can't really celebrate until ______ happens. We keep moving the needle and before we know it we haven't paused to acknowledge what we've accomplished at all.
As I watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, I thought about how football players take the opposite approach. Nothing is too small to celebrate! If they make a block, they yell and shimmy down the field. If they run the ball six yards, they beat their chests and slap each other on the helmets. They're pumped! (I don't think I've ever celebrated a milestone in my life—even the big ones—to that degree!)
They recognize that every micro-achievement adds up to success, and they mark their progress with elation as they make their way down the field.
What would it look like if we allowed ourselves to experience even a slice of that in our everyday lives?
Often, when I ask clients if they've celebrated their success, they're not sure how to celebrate as grown up professionals—what would be a reasonable way to mark the occasion?
Here are some ideas on how to give yourself the credit you deserve as you march on down the metaphorical football field of your work:
Take a lesson from football and do a little victory dance. Invent your own!
Invite a coworker or friend out to lunch to raise a glass to your success.
Give yourself a break—reward yourself with a block of time to do whatever you want.
Send yourself a congratulatory card, writing why you're proud of yourself and what this accomplishment means to you.
Treat yourself to some self-care that is meaningful to you—a fancy coffee, a bubble bath, a massage.
Choose a victory song and blast it in your car. Sing along!
Buy yourself flowers.
Treat yourself to a new headshot that shows you as you truly are.
Make yourself a certificate of achievement.
Phone a friend—someone in your life who will understand what the success (little or big) means in the grand scheme of what you aim to accomplish.
At its heart, a celebration is about pausing, taking yourself out of the ordinary, and recognizing your progress.
It bears mentioning: one of the biggest factors that hold us back from celebrating success is not knowing what success means to us. The wins in life are not as clear as in a football game. So many of us are living according to vague notions of success that we've inherited from our families or from Instagram, which leave us forever striving and never actually arriving at a place that feels authentically worthy of celebration.
Taking the time to clearly define what is fulfilling for you means that you can align your efforts to aim for it, and you'll recognize the milestones when you hit them.
Capturing your personal definition of success is part of the Strategic Career Plan that each of my coaching clients will develop in our work together. Learn more about what it would look like to develop your Strategic Career Plan here.