Your partner gets a promotion. You congratulate them with a celebratory meal.
Your baby (or maybe a close friend’s baby) makes their first attempt at standing. They wobble and fall. You shower them with kisses and praise for trying.
Your friend moves into a new house. You buy them a gift to honor their new home.
Your niece or nephew scores a point in their first soccer game. You tell them how proud you are.
Your pet learns a new trick. You throw them a treat.
You do something amazing:
- score a point in a league game
- receive an honor or award
- complete a project
- meet a health goal
- or take a first step towards a big dream….
How do you celebrate yourself?
If you’re like most, then you just gloss over it. You say “It wasn’t a big deal”, that “it’s not deserving of a celebration”, and you continue on with your day.
We’re often incredible at celebrating others’ achievements regardless of how big or small. We’re phenomenal at being their cheerleader and honoring their wins and successes. But we neglect to do the same for ourselves.
Why is that?
I hear all sorts of reasons from people about why they don’t celebrate themselves.
“Celebrating feels too self-congratulatory and self-serving.”
“If I celebrate now it would make me complacent. It would hold me back from achieving even more.”
“It wasn’t that big a deal! Not worthy of celebrating.”
“I don’t deserve to celebrate. I haven’t achieved the ultimate goal yet.”
Yet we keep moving the goal-post, making it impossible to ever celebrate our own achievements.
Many of us get stuck in a cycle of setting goals for ourselves, working hard to achieve those goals and then moving the goalpost a little further. Reaching the ‘ultimate goal’ that feels worthy of celebration becomes unattainable.
I know because I’ve been there.
I used to think celebrating was an unnecessary ‘waste of time’. I thought it’d take my focus away from my goals. So I never took the time to acknowledge my own successes. I didn’t want to be complacent or lose focus from my goals.
What I realized: Celebration matters.
I wasn’t good at celebrating myself. On the flip side, I was a gold medalist at berating myself for the missed goals. And after years of striving for one achievement after another, climbing one big mountain after another, I became exhausted. I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted from pursuing one achievement after another without any self-acknowledgement or encouragement.
Let’s go back to the baby learning to walk.
Imagine if little Jane or little John grabbed the edge of a chair, held on tightly and slowly put one leg up, wobbled, and then fell over. What would happen if you said, “The ultimate goal is to get walking and you’re not there yet so there’s nothing to celebrate.” Would little Jane or little John keep trying? Where do you think the confidence level might be?
What really happens is that we celebrate their every attempt. We encourage them at every step regardless of the outcome. This in turn keeps them confident and motivated to keep going.
We need to do that for ourselves too!
What is ‘Celebration’ anyway?
Celebration isn’t just about throwing a big party.
It can be, but the true essence of celebration is appreciating who you are in this moment. Not the person you wish you were. Nor the achievements you aspire to attain. But accepting and loving all parts of yourself right now; even the ones you might not particularly like.
Celebration is not just a brief, feel good moment and then moving on.
- Taking a pause
- Making an action to physically celebrate (like a self high-five or self-hug)
- Reflecting on your journey: what you learned, how you’ve grown and what you enjoyed (or didn’t)
Celebration isn’t about bragging, proving that you’re better than others or giving yourself an excuse to do nothing.
Celebration is about recognizing that you are where you are because you’ve worked hard and you deserve it. It’s a tool to cheer you on and keep you going. It can be as private as you like because it truly is about you celebrating you. It’s an act of self-love and self-acknowledgement.
Why ‘Celebration’ matters
Contrary to belief, celebration is not self-serving. Nor does it divert your attention from your goal. In fact, celebrating supports you in achieving your goals! Every step along the way deserves to be celebrated. Here’s why.
Reason #1: It keeps you motivated.
We celebrate others to encourage them and show them we’re proud. To keep them motivated to keep going. The same holds true for ourselves. We often fail, not because we’re not good enough. It’s because we don’t take the first step. Even if we can muster the courage to take the first step, we may not see ‘progress’ immediately, which causes us to give up too early.
When you celebrate the wins you’ve achieved, regardless of how small, it strengthens your will to keep going. It boosts your courage to take the next step and the next step after that; building momentum as you progress towards your goals.
Big things often have small beginnings. Nothing great happens overnight. Each small step that is taken will add up to a big transformation. Celebration fuels you with encouragement to stay motivated.
Reason #2: It builds your confidence.
When you celebrate yourself, you’re essentially telling the Universe that you are unstoppable. Many of us hold ourselves back from pursuing things that we desire. We let our fears and limiting beliefs keep us small. We end up giving up on ourselves before even really trying.
Celebrating generates an aura of confidence that, in turn, generates even greater confidence in ourselves. And greater confidence leads to more successes, which in turn, leads to more things to celebrate! It’s a cycle of wins that leads to greater self-love.
You might be thinking: “But I don’t want to come off as arrogant…” Oftentimes, confidence is confused with arrogance. They are not the same.
- Confidence is knowing and believing in what you do well and what you don’t. It’s about being able to step into that truth.
- Arrogance, on the other hand, is a way to cover up your shortcomings.
Reason #3: It gives more meaning and joy on your journey.
We’re often so busy doing and achieving that we miss out on life. We’re so focused on the final goal, the destination, that we don’t enjoy the journey to get there. The end destination for all of us is death so what are we all rushing towards anyway?
At the end of the day, we’re all human ‘beings’ not human ‘doings’. Celebration gives you a moment to pause and breathe and be. When you celebrate and savor in the moment, it nurtures a sense of greater meaning. It enables you to appreciate the small things that make life worth living.
As Lao Tzu said: “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
And there are more benefits!
If that’s not enough for you, people who pause to reflect and celebrate themselves and their achievements
- Have improved physical health and stronger immune system
- Have better coping strategies and can bounce back more quickly from adversity
- Are more optimistic
- Have a stronger social network
- Take better care of themselves
- Tend to be less stressed
The benefits are plentiful!
So let’s get celebrating!
Celebrating yourself on a daily basis helps to build the habit and cultivates self-love and appreciation. It doesn’t matter how small of a win. It might be that you worked out despite not wanting to, or you spoke up for yourself at work, or perhaps you gave yourself grace and allowed yourself to take a break. All small wins adds up. So these are all worthy of celebration.
To get you started, here are some ideas:
- Get outside: Not only do you get the benefits of Vitamin D from the sun, but the fresh air and being around trees and nature cultivates a sense of resilience and is good for the mind, body and soul!
- Try something new (but for the fun of it and not just to achieve something!): Have you always wanted to try something but haven’t allowed yourself to do so? Go for it now!
- Celebrate in community: Connect with a friend and share your win! True friends will want to celebrate your successes just like you do with them! BONUS TIP: Use the phone or video chat. Not text or Facebook messenger!
- Buy something for yourself: A favorite book, a bottle of wine, the earring you had your eye on.
- Pamper yourself: Whether it’s a bubble bath, a massage or a pedicure–whatever your heart desires!
- Unleash your inner child: Make time to play whether it’s flying a kite, making snow angels, or playing tag. Laughter and joy are good for the soul.
Celebrating yourself can be simple gestures too
- Give yourself a pat on the back
- Hug yourself
- Do a jumping high five with yourself (hold one hand high up and jump as you high five it with your other hand)
- Journal each night on 3 things you’re proud of yourself for from that day
- Look in the mirror and tell yourself at least one reason why you’re awesome
In what ways can you acknowledge yourself TODAY?
Don’t hold back. Be proud of who you are, what you’ve accomplished and step into the ritual of celebrating your amazingness every day.
Because if you don’t celebrate you, then who will?