We are constantly bombarded with eternal clichés like life’s a journey, enjoy the ride or be sure to stop and smell the roses. While cringe-worthy at times, these expressions exist to firmly remind us to take time out to celebrate our experiences and that it is important to do so. Celebrating our successes and acknowledging personal growth helps keep us on track and motivated towards our goals.
Recently published behavioural studies have shown that the most motivated individuals are those that feel they are making adequate progress towards their own goals. While financial incentives, benefits and pats on the back for corporate accomplishments may stimulate some excitement in the short term, these carrots are rarely sufficient to achieve sustainable motivation. For this, each individual needs to have an idea of what their own end goals are as well as some concrete milestones that would inform them that they are on track.
Generally, people tend to focus on calendar events to mark their celebrations. So they throw birthday parties, exchange gifts on Valentine’s Day, have New Year’s eve bashes or get drunk after their team wins a match against their arch-rivals. There is also usually no shortage of feel-good events like the 2010 World Cup, movies or music concerts. Like those bonus cheques though, these celebrations of life in general while important, are not enough to sustain happiness and motivation. For this, a different sort of celebration is called for.
Coaches strive to enable their clients to think more deeply about what is really important to them. The idea behind this is that the stronger the sense of purpose a client has in their lives, the more meaningful their actions are to them as they take steps to fulfil that purpose. If one assumes that at some level – even if it is purely subconscious – people know what their purpose is, then it is unfortunate that they rarely take the time out to acknowledge the steps they’re taking to fulfil it. It is precisely this celebration that is needed to keep people both driven and happy.
Regardless of whether you have achieved something concrete or not, or even if you think you have failed, get what you can out of every experience and celebrate your progress along your own path. Do so before rushing head-first into making your 2011 New Year’s resolutions. Take some time to answer a couple of important questions:
- What did I achieve in 2010 that shows I’m on track toward my deeper purpose?
- What have I learnt in the last year that will help me move forward toward my goals?
Whether you like it or not, the successes and learning of your life up to now provides the springboard for both your future successes and your happiness. So take some time out to celebrate where you are right now – you deserve it!