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Why you probably need to celebrate more

June 9, 2021

What are you proud of in the last week? Maybe it’s plucking up courage to approach a new buyer with your product, supporting a colleague who needed a good listening to or checking your email only once in half term with the kids? 

My old team used to kick off our Monday morning meetings with the ‘proud of’ question. I liked it because it was a regular celebratory pause; it helped me stay positive and energised and gave a great start to my week. It’s so powerful, I still use it today, albeit in my team of one.

It’s all too easy to go from one task to another without stopping to recognise those small steps of progress. Plus we have a tendency to focus on what we haven’t done (to manage risk and keep us safe). Enter that non-stop treadmill feeling and a spiral into burn-out.

Conscious celebrations

We have to consciously consider what we’ve achieved to counter this. According to behaviour scientist BJ Fogg, even the tiniest celebration immediately following success releases dopamine. This causes you to find ways to repeat the action that resulted in those good feelings and before you know it – zing! – you’ve created a virtuous circle. 

So how can you routinely recognise your progress, especially if you’re working from home and haven’t got someone next to you to say ‘well done’ when you masterfully handle a difficult customer? 

Here are some ideas: 

  •  Create a physical or virtual ‘ta-da!’ board where you’ll see it and record things you’ve achieved (the opposite to a to-do list)
  •  Find your ‘mini celebration’: a quiet smile to yourself, a satisfied nod, a fist pump and use it when you complete something particularly challenging 
  •  Schedule a weekly reflection walk: hang up your tools, shut your laptop and get some fresh air whilst thinking about what you’ve done 
  •  Keep a daily journal – download my Journaling for real guide for insights from women on how to build a reflective writing habit 
  •  Celebrate someone else’s success, it’s just as uplifting. Drop them an email – or better still a hand-written note – to acknowledge their effort or result 

Warning! Your judge saboteur (the voice in your head that loves to highlight your mistakes and shortcomings) will be doing its upmost to deny all your achievements with a ‘yes but’. If you notice this happening, try to wiggle each of your toes in turn (it’ll ground you) and then focus back on your progress. 

So close your eyes for a moment. Think of something you’re proud of, no matter how big or small, and enjoy that glow of satisfaction. You’ll feel inspired to tackle your next task! 

About me

I’m Celia Clark. I’m a career development coach based in the dreaming spires of Oxford. I help you think clearly about your job, in all its ups and downs, so you can be happy and successful in your work.

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