Pause to Celebrate Accomplishments

6170074 © Sergey Kravtsov |

The past several years, for me personally, have held immense change. Divorce, single-parenting, estrangement from my family, completing grad school, COVID, amazing new business ventures, and getting engaged. It has been a lot; both positive and challenging. The amount of effort, daily practice, persistence, and support needed was abnormal. Since many of these changes have been grand, it seemed easy to celebrate. Other changes didn’t seem so publicly easy to celebrate. However, each change was intentionally done to create a healthier version of me. And so I am celebrating and acknowledging all these things. The milestones seem obvious to celebrate and share, but what I really like to acknowledge is the steps and behaviors I took to make these things happen. This is what created the change. Creating a village of support, meditation, ways to rest & relax, exercise, healthy eating, crying when necessary, journaling, hard work and deadlines, composure during lots of uncertainty, positive affirmations, and sticking to some strong uncomfortable boundaries. While I continue to hope for many more things to celebrate in my future, I am also ready to turn down the notch on such big milestones all at once. Phew! Contentment is my goal.

In working with clients, it is common (and human) for them to focus on what is going wrong. When making health and lifestyle changes that we are familiar with; we can get stuck in discouragement, fear, exhaustion, and overwhelm. As a coach, I have the opportunity to support clients in remembering all the things that ARE going well, changes they’ve made in small steps, and to celebrate these. No matter what, we are not the person we were yesterday and that is one step closer to who we aim to be.

When we’re feeling low and discouraged, someone may tell us to be grateful or celebrate…well, let the eye rolls begin. Easier said than done. And… science suggests we should at least give it a try. Pause to acknowledge what we have, what we’ve accomplished, and celebrate. Feel-good hormones are released, perspectives shift, confidence builds, and a sense of pride may take over. So if you’re feeling discouraged, that could be a cue to pause and celebrate where you’re at. Or if you’re Type A, like me, try not to plow onto the next item on your to-do list before really cross something off without stating “job well done.” Here are some tips and tricks to pause, acknowledge, and celebrate.

Find the SMALLEST accomplishment to celebrate first. 

Let’s face it; we are not all destined to be Olympic athletes. Or CEOs. Or superheroes. We’re destined to be us. Sometimes when it’s hard to find something to celebrate, it’s because our expectations are too high. Basically saying that whatever we have accomplished isn’t worthy or “big enough” to celebrate. Let that inner critic go. Celebrating getting out of bed, putting food on the table, smiling at someone in the grocery store, having composure in a difficult situation, or watering your plants. You can stop here or naturally see where you recognize lots of accomplishments that are in line or slightly bigger than this…keep searching.

Create a celebration ritual. 

Rewards work and are necessary- especially in the short term. I don’t mean go out and buy yourself a Lexus every time you meet a deadline. Creating a ritual can be something that is done in any amount of time that signals a sense of pride, confidence, and accomplishment. Maybe you call/text a trusted supportive friend and share. Have a dance party to your favorite song. Go out to dinner. Take a bath. Light a candle and reflect. Take a fun picture. You can do whatever ritual you’d like to acknowledge when you have a reason to celebrate.

Soak it up and REALLY feel it.

Evidence shows that we are naturally attuned to have a negativity bias; always searching for the “bad.” When we have good feelings, really pause and soak it up for several seconds (or more!). Allow the feelings of success, pride, confidence, ease, joy, etc. permeate through your body. Notice where it goes. Close your eyes and allow a smile to spread across your face. It’s like wrapping a blanket of love around your insides. When we do this, we can actually train our bodies and mind to focus more on the positives in the future. Give yourself permission to feel good…even longer.

Give yourself a pep talk.

I am not embarrassed to admit that I have a lot of conversations with myself.  In doing so, I can notice when I am beating myself up. And usually doesn’t help with any situation. As cheesy as it sounds, be a verbal cheerleader for yourself. It helps immensely and since it can be done silently, no one even has to know. When you do something that is challenging, no matter the size or moment, tell yourself “nice work,” “that was hard and you did it,” “you got through it,” “you can do it,” etc. This form of self-love and compassion is a game-changer. Can’t seem to get it started? Change your phone home screen to a nice positive message to offer celebration as a way to kick it off.

Celebration to ponder:
-Recently (or in the past), what was one healthy thing you did for yourself that was new or hard?

-What was one seemingly small thing you did to get you there that is worth acknowledging?
-No matter the size, what is one goal you have accomplished so far this year?
-When have you felt a sense of pride this year, even for a moment? What did it feel like? Soak it up.
-What is one thing you can cross off your list by the end of this month that you may have been putting off?
-What does a celebration for your accomplishments look and feel like? Do that.

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