Rike Harrison, USH Associates
Celebrating is not about throwing a big party for each achievement. While there is nothing wrong with that, celebration starts with the recognition and awareness of what has been achieved and acknowledgement of the resilience involved in achieving it.
“Are We There Yet?”
As a business development professional, you begin focusing on the next goal (prospect) and the next plan (sales process) as soon as a milestone or win has been achieved, even when it required hard work for a long period of time. Not a bad thing, right? After all, the firm has aggressive growth goals. The problem is that you do not stop—even just for a little while—to enjoy your successes. In her article, Why You Must Celebrate Small Successes, Minda Zetlin compares this behavior to a kid who constantly asks “Are we there yet?” while missing all the cool things to see and experience along the way. Sound familiar?
To achieve challenging goals, you must set process goals and milestones that lead you to the end goal one-step at a time. These milestones also provide an excellent structure for ‘intermissions’; a time to celebrate what you have achieved, share with others what worked for you, and discuss how you overcame challenges. Reaching a milestone is an important step that supports short-term (closing the deal) and long-term (establishing a profitable, long-term relationship) goals.
It is Important to Celebrate
What happens if you take the time to step back and reflect? You learn and then repeat the actions that brought success. This mindset, however, needs cultivating. Visualization, affirmation, and celebration are all part of this cultivation process. Tell yourself: “I have done this successfully before, and I can do it again.” Downplaying and not celebrating actually signals to your mind that you are not worth the celebration and, as a result, you may refrain from the action that just proved to be successful.
Motivation theory shows that dopamine, a neuro happy chemical in the brain, is released when you achieve something, feel good about the achievement, and want to repeat it—experience, learn and repeat. Celebrate your successes so that you will continue to be successful! In addition, do not forget a team celebration. It gives credit to the work that has been done and demonstrates the gratitude the leader has for the team. Celebrating reinforces motivation.
Unfortunately, many people focus attention on what did not work and what needs to change. This behavior can lead to tremendous stress and emotional breakdown. Studies show that lack of positive reinforcement will result in withdrawal and a decrease of focus. You resign to the fact that it is just is too hard and do not try again. You lose track of the fact that you went from a list of 300 targets to 50 prospects. That is huge; your probability of success increased exponentially. Celebrate!
Celebrating is not only about parties. Actually, celebrations can take on many forms. Try:
- Stopping and breathing – be aware of what you achieved
- Celebrating stick-to-it-ness, not just the result
- Observing with someone else your milestone
- Doing something you enjoy
- Checking-in with someone who supported you along the way
- Sending a handwritten note to someone who contributed to your success
- Being selfish – you deserve it for a moment
- Spending time with your kids and letting them teach you how contagious enjoyment of success really is
- Meeting with friends and telling them about your achievement
- Having a drink of champagne or glass of wine with someone who sees what you accomplished and wants to celebrate you
Do not just celebrate the end of a project – it is important to also celebrate the process. Celebrate immediately and in a meaningful way. Be specific about the achievement, the contribution, and the importance. Do not just go through the motions. Slow down. Acknowledging and celebrating successes, small or large, has a magical impact: It may only take 10 minutes, but the return on investment is quite impressive.
Celebrating successes fuels the motivation to take the next step or attack the next goal. It is important to you, your team, and your organization. The road to success is long and hard. It takes many steps to reach your goal and many celebrations to reinforce your intentions. Celebrating success is the protein bar you need to make it on the long way to goal achievement.
Try it! And, CONGRATULATIONS!