When was the last time you took some time to acknowledge—even celebrate—yourself and your accomplishments? It seems like we are constantly celebrating momentous occasions—birthdays, graduations, anniversaries—but what about all the small, yet important wins? We are conditioned to immediately move on to what’s next after completing a task, rather than celebrating the success or taking time to reflect on what how we got there. In the workplace, we might obsess about the future, always asking “are we there yet?” rather than taking in all that we have done and all that we’ve learned along the way.
This is an unfortunate trend, because there are real physiological (and psychological) benefits to rewarding yourself and recognizing your accomplishments —and failing to stop and smell the roses can put you at risk for burnout and lower life satisfaction, among other things.
Why do we need to celebrate?
Taking the time to celebrate your triumphs and reward yourself triggers endorphins to be released in your body, resulting in not just a mental win, but also a physical feeling of success. This euphoric feeling helps reinforce the behavior you want to show up in the face of a hurdle—your mind is better equipped to overcome obstacles, because it craves the release of endorphins that occurs when you come out on top or overcome a conflict.
Alternatively, when you fail to acknowledge the positives, you send the message to your brain that what you are accomplishing is not important or worthy of celebration. If every accomplishment feels like a mundane chore, work can leave you feeling empty, less focused, and less productive over time. Simply put, it’s dangerous to feel like you don’t deserve to celebrate your accomplishments, according to David DeSteno, PhD, who studies the relationships between emotions and success. The emotions associated with celebrating ourselves, such as pride and gratitude, will leave us happier and more compassionate, and lead to greater future successes.
Not only is it good for your health, but celebrating your successes is a move that can benefit your career in the long term. Neglecting to acknowledge accomplishments, and solely focusing on what still needs to get done, can lead to discouragement at work and eventual burnout. When you constantly worry about what hasn’t been accomplished rather than what has, you are less likely to focus on your goals and complete your tasks. The good news is, celebrating your successes can boost confidence and productivity, inspire and motivate those around you, and fuel your future accomplishments.
How to celebrate your success
So, what are productive ways to celebrate your successes and keep the momentum going for another great year? Remember to Reflect, Share, and Celebrate…
First, start off with self-reflection. What specific things did you accomplish this past year? What are you most proud of, and why? What strengths did you use that led to your success (and perhaps what could you do differently to improve?) Last but not least, what did you enjoy working on most? Reflect on your accomplishments to recognize what’s working well and why, then use this information to learn and adapt to new challenges in the upcoming year.
Next, share your successes with others, and recognize the accomplishments of your team members. You may have to recognize your own successes if you want others to do so—but don’t be afraid to share the credit! Celebrating your win might not necessarily be just about you. And including others in your celebration is a great way to build and strengthen connections with your coworkers, inspire motivation, and share the credit with anyone who helped you along the way.
Finally, take time to celebrate! Reward yourself for a job well done, in ways that will nurture your mind, body and spirit. Take some time off to unwind, try a new hobby, plan a get-together with old friends. Anything that will leave you refreshed for the new year! After all, as you celebrate your wins, it creates an even greater desire to learn and accomplish more. When you notice and celebrate your successes, you start to see yourself as someone who is successful rather than someone who’s trying to become successful. Good luck!