Ever since I can remember, I was always goal setting. Whether it was competing for first chair in the high school band or getting into the college of my choice or raising funds for a thesis in a third world country, goals have always been a big part of my life. I have always been the type of person who would put my mind to something, achieve it and then would quickly move on to setting and achieving my next goal.
Hmmm…did you notice the ever so tiny missing part of this cycle? You guessed it, there was no step between ‘achieving it’ and ‘then moving on.’ Recently, it has become clear to me that I have never spent much time celebrating my accomplishments. Sure, there is always a little ‘Woohoo!’ expressed or a dinner with a toast, but once the next day arrives, I move on as if nothing special ever happened.
Recently, this pattern repeated itself when I received my architecture license. You aren’t officially considered ‘an architect’ until you get your license, which requires that you first complete a 3 year apprenticeship and then pass all nine torturous registration exams. It took me 14 years. This lengthy, drawn out process wasn’t a result of failing and having to retake the tests, it was more a reflection on the fact that I HATED studying for them, let alone taking them; my career path was extremely non-linear; my schedule was always hectic; and I wasn’t really sure I wanted it enough. Yet, after those 14 long years, I received my license, said a little ‘Woohoo!’ and moved on to set my next goal.
I have to believe I am not alone in this pattern of behavior. Many of us, especially Type-As, have a difficult time acknowledging, let alone celebrating, our accomplishments. I look at my mom, who I admire so much for all that she has done in her life, and I know she doesn’t view her own accomplishments nearly as highly as I do. And, vice-a-versa. Well, I’m ready to stop the vicious, non-celebratory cycle…and if you are in the same boat…so should you. Here is how you can start adding ‘celebration’ into your achievements.
- Journal the Process: As you work towards your goal, journal the process. This will give you something to look back on and to remember how hard you worked to reach your goal.
- Acknowledgment: When you achieve your goal, stop and acknowledge it. Soak it in and feel good about it.
- Look Back at What You Did: Bring out your journal and read through what you had to do to accomplish what you set out to achieve. Take some time to remember the struggles, the ups, the downs, the setbacks…all of it.
- Reward Yourself: Find a way to privately and independently reward yourself for your accomplishment. Buy yourself a present. Splurge on a day at the spa. Take time for yourself.
- Celebrate with Friends and Family: Find a way to include others in celebrating your accomplishments. This will help you to accept and legitimize your success. It will also allow you to share your success, which will heighten your own self-awareness of what you have done.
- Take Time: If you are naturally a goal setter, resist the urge to leap into a new goal immediately. Give yourself a week or so to enjoy, relax and bask in the glory of your accomplishment!
Do you have the same problem or have you learned to celebrate your accomplishments? Why do we struggle with acknowledging or feeling good about our achievements? Why can’t we celebrate our own accomplishments but can easily celebrate others’?