Healthy Ways to Celebrate Success

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Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten the importance of celebrating our successes. As soon as we achieve a goal or reach a big milestone, rather than taking the time to bask in the glory of your achievement, we’re already going after our next goal.   

In the fast-paced society we live in today, it’s easy to get caught up in this vicious cycle.

But taking the time to celebrate your successes, both large and small, is an integral part of the process that you don't want to skip. Here are some reasons why celebrating your wins is so critically important and a few ways to make the most out of your celebrations.

Why Celebrate Success?

Not only does celebrating success feel good in the moment, but it also sets you up for future success. Taking the time to recognize your achievements allows you the chance to pinpoint exactly what worked so that you can repeat it in the future.

Taking pride in your accomplishments by celebrating them—even the small ones—can also boost your self-confidence and motivate you to achieve more. In fact, pride is one of a select group of emotions that produces success. 

In his book, "Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride," psychologist David DeSteno, PhD, explains just how these emotions lead people to even greater future success.

David DeSteno, PhD

These feelings—gratitude, compassion, and pride—are easier to generate than the willpower and self-denial that underpin traditional approaches to self-control and grit. And while willpower is quickly depleted, prosocial emotions actually become stronger the more we use them.

— David DeSteno, PhD

But that's not all. The positive emotions you experience when celebrating are highly contagious. Just by celebrating your own success, you give others permission to do the same.

Celebrating vs. Rewarding

Celebrating your success is not the same thing as rewarding yourself. A reward suggests that you reached the end of a process. You have met your goal and earned your prize. Celebrating is about appreciating the process.

Though that distinction is subtle, understanding the difference—and then doing both—allows you to take advantage of two different types of motivation.

Extrinsic motivation is when we feel motivated to complete a task because we want to earn an external reward, such as a gift, ribbon, trophy or money. The process of completing the task becomes more about the final outcome than the process and effort required to complete the task. When we rely too much on extrinsic motivation and reward, it can be difficult to find the energy to engage in the task itself when that external reward is removed. 

Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is motivation that comes from within rather than focusing only on the outcome or reward. This type of motivation has more to do with the process and effort of the task than the outcome. When intrinsically motivated, people will engage in a task for the joy of doing so, even if there is no trophy to be won at the end.

Celebrating success in a healthy way allows us to enhance the positive emotion around our effort, further increasing our intrinsic motivation

How to Celebrate in a Healthy Way

There are a few simple ways that you can celebrate your success and use it to boost your motivation to continue on your journey to personal fulfillment.

Journal your progress to see how far you’ve come, even if you haven’t reached your ultimate goal yet. It will help you stay positive, which is the key to continued success.

Include Others

It can be easy to forget those who may have helped us, in ways big or small, to reach the finish line. Celebrate your success by including your supporters. Go out for a nice dinner and tell them how much they mean to you. The more specific you can be about what you value about that person, the better.

People like feeling genuinely appreciated. When you celebrate success with others, you are nurturing the kind of meaningful relationships that allow those same people to want to help you in the future.

Take Time For Yourself

Everyone needs to rest. There is no better time to take a day off than when you have just accomplished something big.

Celebrate in fun ways that nurture your mind, body, and spirit. Decide to celebrate in ways that speak to you and what you enjoy most. Examples of ways to celebrate while nurturing yourself include:

  • Dinner party with loved ones
  • Walk or jog in the park
  • Watch the sunrise or sunset
  • Massage or spa treatment
  • Game night with friends
  • Start a new journal
  • Go on an adventure
  • Try a new hobby

The alone time will give you a chance to reflect on what you have accomplished.

Reflect

Sure, meeting your sales quota is reason enough to celebrate, but it's important to also reflect on the journey you took to get there.

Try to reflect using the following questions:

  • What did I enjoy most about this journey?
  • What did I do well?
  • What strengths did I use?
  • What skills did I gain?
  • What do I feel most confident about?
  • How did I overcome obstacles along the way?
  • What would I change for next time?

Answering questions like these gives you invaluable insight into who you are, what your strengths are, and how to use those strengths to secure future successes.

Setting aside the time to reflect after a big win gives you the chance to process and better understand your experience.

A Word From Verywell

The next time you accomplish something you are proud of, allow yourself to celebrate the moment before you move on to the next goal.

An important piece of celebrating your success in healthy ways is to simply take the time to do it. Enjoy your efforts, energy, and accomplishments. Include others who have helped you along the way, and remember to celebrate in ways that nurture your mind, body and spirit.

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Article Sources
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  1. Amabile TM, Kramer SJ. The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work. Harvard Business Review Press; 2011.

  2. DeSteno D. Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2018.