In our lives, we celebrate major milestones like birthdays and significant successes like job promotions. But often we put celebrations off for larger successes and wait for the next big goal to be accomplished. This is an easy and unfortunate trap to fall into. It is just as important to celebrate small victories and to express collective and personal pride in accomplishments that could be a small step in a longer journey. When we put off celebrations for something “bigger” many times we look back some time later and realize we never took time to enjoy our success or the path we took to get there.
I have worked for a few start up companies and research institutions in Silicon Valley over the past 15 years. Looking back I can see differences among these groups tied the efforts that were made by the people in charge to celebrate often or not. In the groups where we celebrated often, no matter how large or small the milestone, moral was consistently high. Most people felt appreciated and were much more willing to step up their game and put extra hours in when needed. Employees took pride in getting things right. And these celebrations were not Champagne and Bellini affairs. Often it was just a cake from Costco and some ice cream. As with many aspects of interpersonal interaction, it was the thought that counted and most people recognized that.
In other groups where I worked the people in charge were continuously putting off celebrations for “the next milestone” or completion of the next project. The time between celebrations grew and grew till work became like chasing rainbows. Never a pot of gold or even a, “great job, thanks,” At the end. The result was inevitably reduced moral and declining performance.
The same applies in our personal lives. The more often we acknowledge the little things we accomplish, the greater our willingness to keep pushing forward. And it makes it easier to Jar The Ground.
For me I want there to be able to acknowledge good in my life no matter how small. I try not to let the “size” of something positive to keep me from becoming excited and joyous. I try to show gratitude for every day I wake and to be excited. Sadly this general attitude does not always sit well with “serious” people. Someone once told me I was acting like a child for being too excited over “small things.” Recently at the 100 day celebration for my child’s kindergarten, I burst through a curtain of streamers and shouted “woo hoo” excitedly and clapped. All the kids started laughing hysterically. But a couple parents nearby looked on with disapproval and disdain. Sad. I don’t think these people have come to grips with their own mortality.
Being able to able to find joy in the small things does not mean we give up on our larger dreams. It just means that we acknowledge that life (no matter what course we set) is a journey and each step is a victory because it brings us closer to our goals. Each day is a cause for celebration, because we are still here.
My only request for you in this posting: Find something to celebrate today and do so with unabashed abandon.