Here we are at the end of another year! Before you start thinking about New Year’s resolutions or goal setting, take a moment to look back, reflect on how this year has been and consider what you are taking away from it. In the process of doing this, it is important to recognise the successes you have had, to acknowledge the effort and positive decisions you have made, to take the time to give yourself a well-earned pat on the back, and express gratitude to those who have supported you along the way.
Read on to find out why you should make a habit of celebrating your wins, not just to mark the end of the year, but as a regular practice that you do all year round. Additionally, you will find some ideas on how to identify and acknowledge your wins and reward yourself accordingly. You can also download the free journal prompts at the end of this post to help get you started!
Why should you celebrate your wins?
When you are busy with your day to day duties it can be difficult to remember to pause and take stock of what you have managed to achieve. Also, thanks to our inherent negativity bias, we typically focus on what isn’t going well rather than on what is going right. Of course we need to be able to identify what isn’t working and address any issues so that we can learn and improve but often the balance is skewed towards the negative. It can take some effort on our part to notice what is going well and, incrementally, what we are achieving.
However, taking a moment to acknowledge our wins can:
- spur us on and give us hope that things will work out (especially when times are challenging!)
- remind us of the reasons why we are chasing a goal (and the benefits we will gain from doing so)
- help us to see the progress we are making right now rather than constantly propelling our minds into the future to a time when we have achieved our end goal (which can actually just remind us that we are ‘not there yet’). If we don’t acknowledge the smaller wins along the way to our goals, and stop to observe the progress we are making, we may even decide to give up!
- build confidence in our abilities by providing evidence that we can succeed.
Plus there’s some science behind it! As James Clear states in Atomic Habits* your brain likes rewards (especially if they are immediate) and uses them to decide whether activities are worth repeating or not. So giving ourselves small incentives to act in accordance with our goals really matters!
*Disclosure: If you buy books linked to my site, I may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops.
Recognising your wins
You don’t have to wait for a big goal to come to fruition before you celebrate and reward yourself for all the hard work you have done. Start giving yourself credit for the steps you are taking each day, the milestones you are reaching, and appreciate the useful lessons that you are learning. These things all add up and contribute to the changes you want to make in your life.
Noting down your wins
You can set up a daily, weekly or even monthly practice where you use a journal prompt to get you to identify and reflect on your wins. For example, if you have a morning journal practice, you could begin by outlining what you think would be some small wins for you in the day. At the end of each day you could then write down what you have accomplished.
I have a few different practices that help me to acknowledge my wins. Every evening I write down Three Good Things that have happened in the day which usually includes some small wins that I have had. Every week I write down my key successes (even in the most unproductive weeks I can always think of something that could be considered a win!) I also do a monthly review of my goals and write down what I have managed to achieve each month.
When you are in the process of goal setting it is good practice to break down the key milestones and smaller actions that you need to be taking towards your goal. This can reduce any apprehension or overwhelm you may be feeling and ensures that you are clear on what you need to do (and when). You can then track your progress and give yourself a sticker or smiley face on your tracker every time you achieve something (who said reward charts just need to be for kids?) or treat yourself to another reward of some kind.
Furthermore, if you keep a record of your successes you can refer to it on days when your motivation is low or when you need a confidence boost and reassure yourself that you can do this!
What are wins?
A win can be anything that gives you a sense of achievement or accomplishment. Your wins can be linked to the goals you have set or they can be small actions and occurrences in your day that help you to feel that you are making progress and are on top of things.
Here are a few examples of wins that you may like to record and celebrate in some way.
- Receiving positive feedback
- A job well done
- Achieving a qualification or accreditation
- Committing to your exercise routine
- Eating healthily for most of the day or week
- Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit
- Doing something (even if it is just a tiny step) that will take you towards your goal
How to celebrate your wins
Don’t hide your successes, share them with others!
Get posting and share your wins over on social media and/or with your colleagues, family, friends and any other relevant groups that you are in. Just make sure that the people you are sharing your achievements with are people who are actually supportive of you and care about your progress.
Wait, isn’t that just bragging? No, as long it is all factual, it is absolutely OK to give yourself credit where it is due and, as noted earlier, it is important to do so. You could let people in your network know what your end goal or target is and then keep them updated on your journey towards it (which can also provide accountability and an incentive to follow through!) You can also tell people about the obstacles you have faced and the learning you have gained on the way to success. You may then inspire others to strive towards their goals and share their own success stories.
Create a ‘Ta Daa’ list
We are all accustomed to looking at our To Do list at the end of each day and pinpointing the tasks that haven’t got done, but how about making a habit of acknowledging what you have managed to do at the end of each day (beyond simply crossing off a task on your To Do list)? A ‘Ta Daa’ list basically involves writing down all the things you have accomplished in a day or week. It could even be something that totally threw your To Do list out the window but that you or someone else really valued e.g. ‘I took good care of myself as I was feeling poorly today’ or ‘I helped X do Y’.
Do something nice for yourself
Once you have identified the small wins in your day/week or when you find that you have achieved one of your goals, what could you do to reward yourself? Consider activities that you would find particularly rewarding and enjoyable and then schedule them in. It could be a bubble bath, a home or spa pamper session, watching your favourite TV series or film, listening to uplifting and celebratory music, buying yourself something nice or something that supports the goals you are working towards, treating yourself to your favourite beverage or meal, granting yourself a ‘do nothing’ day (or hour) or booking a weekend away.
Savour the feelings of achievement
Allow yourself to lean into and enjoy the positive feelings that arise after you have acknowledged your wins (e.g. a sense of pride, satisfaction, happiness, joy, elation, etc.) Jump up and punch the air! Dance around to an upbeat song, give yourself a pat on the back, or sit with the feelings for a while and journal about how good you feel. Think about how your wins or successes are benefiting not only yourself but also others. What knock-on effect have they had on other people in your life?
Acknowledge those who have supported you along the away
If you haven’t already done so, let the people who have supported you this year know how they have helped you and express how grateful you are for everything they have done. If you can, send them a thank you note, treat them to something nice, or include them in any celebrations you have planned.
So, before you head into the New Year and start planning your next steps, what wins can you celebrate this year?
Journal prompts to help you to acknowledge and celebrate your wins
Use the free journal prompts below to identify your most recent achievements and think about ways to reward yourself, share your wins, and thank those who have supported you.
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