3 min read

Celebrating the Small Wins

Success is a series of small wins, focus on what you've achieved and not what you've left to do.
Celebrating the Small Wins

There is no shortage of buzzwords and motivational quotes around, most of which encourage you to "shoot for the stars" or "being the best". Often these slogans neglect the hardwork and effort required to get there, which can make tasks feel much more overwhelming and like you're setting yourself up for failure.

Breaking down a big task into small, bite-sized chunks can make things seem much more manageable. That's why to-do lists are so important, being able to check off at least one task, no matter how small, can give you a serious boost of confidence.

That's why I'm such an advocate for celebrating the small wins. Each small boost of confidence goes a long way to staying on track towards a goal or a bigger task.

Considering the ongoing pandemic, it's more important than ever to take time to appreciate anything that sparks joy – no matter how small.

Small Wins to Big Achievements

A few years back I decided I wanted to run a marathon. Despite having not run since I was in high school, I was at a point in my life where I wanted to lose weight and get fit: running seemed like the most obvious option.

It was at this point I started a running tracker in my bullet journal (see more about that here, each colour signified another run completed. I started with one mile, and another mile, then one and a half miles, two miles and so on. Before I knew it I was preparing for my first half-marathon one year later, and in 2019 I completed my first full marathon.

Another technique I used during this time to keep me motivated were rewards: as you can see in the image below, when I ran my first 10 miles I bought a new pair of running leggings. If I kept it up for 30 miles I would buy myself a fancy pair of running shoes and at 100 miles I rewarded myself with a Garmin running watch.

While I didn't know it at the time, this was my own method of celebrating the small wins and keeping myself motivated to keep going.

Making it part of your team culture

When starting a new job, or joining a new team it can be intimidating. You want to make a good impression and more often than not (speaking for myself at least) you're struggling with imposter syndrome waiting for the rest of your team to find you out. The truth is, it can all be so overwhelming that it feels like it will take you a long time before you're delivering any real value.

This is where making "small wins" part of your team culture comes in. Picked up your first story? Congratulations! Merged your first pull request? Well done! Before you know it, all of these small wins build up to being a productive member of your team. Celebrations don't need to be grand gestures, my team use a :small-wins: emoji (using the title image of this blog) to react to any small win, or we over-communicate it in one of our public channels.

I recently read an article about how important the onboarding process is, and that not enough companies invest resources in improving this experience. I've been very lucky in that when I joined my current company I had a great onboarding experience and felt welcomed by the team, and part of that was the encouragement they gave me around each milestone I met. I've tried to pay this forward as I've helped new colleagues onboard, celebrating the small wins and trying to make it a fun place to work.

It's not all about work

I've used examples here about running and work but the idea of celebrating small wins can apply to anything from reading a book to learning how to solve a rubix cube, or any daily tasks you need to get through. Do what works for you, but remember that taking the time to celebrate the milestones you hit on the way to your ultimate goal will increase your chances of hitting that target!