UntitledThere’s nothing like a well-deserved celebration after a hard-earned victory. One seems to feed off the other, and like peanut butter and jelly, victory and celebration just seem to be made for each other. Call me a contrarian, but I think a celebration, during a time of struggle when there’s little to celebrate, is even more important.

To better understand the point I’m about to make, I suggest you watch the show, Survivor. I’ve been watching the show for over 15 years now. For those who have never seen this show, or for those who need a reminder, each week there are two competitions. One is called an “Immunity Challenge.” That’s the big one, and if you win that one, you are guaranteed to be safe for another couple of days.

There is one other competition each week, and that one is called a “Reward Challenge.” Those reward challenges are often underrated because the winners usually only walk away with some much needed food, or fishing gear, or a couple of blankets, or possibly a letter from home. Those items probably don’t sound very important to you, but then again, you aren’t struggling to maintain your strength on a cup or two of rice a day, sleep deprived and under constant stress while away from your loved ones for an extended length of time.

However, those little victories nourish the mind and body. Properly fed, adequately rested, and mentally sharp, contestants are stronger, and make better decisions. This, in turn, directly impacts the contestant’s abilities to be so much more competitive in the larger, all-important immunity challenges to come.

One thing is for sure; struggle can deplete the mind and body of energy. But victory, no matter how small, can do wonders, and a victory can provide amazing benefits that carry over to other things. It is amazing how things can change dramatically with even the smallest of victories. If only we could find ourselves a well-timed victory…. no matter how small. I maintain these smaller victories are there and they are right under our noses. We just have to look harder.

When we are engaged in struggle, smaller victories are the furthest thing from our minds. We dismiss even the thought of them, and if any good-natured friend reminds us of them, we quickly reject whatever it is they have to say. It’s as if we believe that allowing ourselves to celebrate these small victories will somehow anger the “fairies of fate” that surely must be listening.

During times of struggle, acknowledging and celebrating smaller victories makes sense, and there is no downside. Think of the last time you celebrated any victory; were you stronger or weaker from the experience? Oh, and please don’t tell yourself there is nothing to celebrate because that’s just not true. That’s the struggle talking.

There are a lot of things that you can celebrate and pat yourself on the back for – even when you are in the midst of great struggles. What about your resolution to keep trying? How about celebrating the amount of effort you’ve put into something? Why can’t you acknowledge the courage you’ve displayed by putting yourself in uncomfortable situations in your quest to succeed? Why shouldn’t you feel good about the fact that you continue to learn from your mistakes? How about giving yourself a pat on the back for following your plan and pursuing your goals – regardless of the results?!

When we struggle, we aren’t starving for food; we’re starving for joy.

Allowing yourself to seek out and celebrate victories, no matter how small, will nourish your mind and body at a time when you need this sustenance the most. In turn, this will directly impact your ability to be more competitive in your larger, all-important challenges to come. So don’t be afraid to give yourself a pat on the back: Here’s to your impending celebration!

Comments

  1. Yet another great message Rob. Kind of describes the mentality one needs for playing golf…..celebrate the small victories (great shots) while still trying for that larger goal…breaking 80 or 90 or 100!

  2. The 8th paragraph in this blog might be the most impactful thing I’ve read from you, and you’re one of my favorite business authors. I never really gave much credence to “the journey is the reward” but your blog gives it new meaning to me.

    Thanks.

  3. Rob, there is so much wisdom in this blog. I especially loved the idea of celebrating that one is still learning from mistakes. We beat ourselves up for shortcomings, without acknowledging that striving to be better is ennobling.

  4. Hui Zukauskas says:

    What an inspirational article! Thanks, Rob. Celebrating when you’re struggling, feeding joy when struggling — the points are refreshing and wise. I also benefited from why it’s important to do so.

  5. Your comments are all in agreement with and supported by science and something called the progress principle. In his book, The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt discusses the value of celebrating incremental progress when working on a long-term goal rather than focusing on some sort of big moment of satisfaction or expected rush when you complete the project (which rarely occurs for high achievers since they have already moved on to the next thing). From a biological point of view, why not enjoy dopamine shots all along the way as you make progress rather than hoping for a big dopamine shot upon completion? If you think in terms of making progress, the nervous system has already “had most of the fun” as the steps were completed. Thanks Rob!

  6. Thanks for your words of wisdom, Rob. I’m one who has a hard time celebrating victories, so this Blarticle really hit home with me.

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