When pursuing a big goal, it is easy to get burnt out chasing the light at the end of the tunnel. When I was training for a marathon, I held a clear image of what crossing the finish would look like and planned my celebration down to the smallest detail; including exactly what I would order at the Pancake House afterwards. For nine months I held this image and while envisioning future success is a legitimate motivational strategy, it can also lead to burnout if you don’t take time to celebrate small victories. I looked forward to fantastic home cooked meals after milestone runs (training for a marathon makes you obsessed with food), reveling in the food and my small accomplishment of having run a mile further than the previous week.
Your goals certainly don’t have to be as exercise intensive and leg annihilating as marathon running either. A friend of mine shared with her plan of celebrating on the weekend as she had just got a scientific journal published after months of work. I applauded her effort, but reminded her that she didn’t have to wait that long to hold a celebration. For me, getting all of my roommates out of bed and in the car to go pay rent on a Saturday morning will have me shouting “Roommates, Prepare for Glory” 300-style and celebrating the organizational miracle.
The take away message is to celebrate the small things in life. While I encourage you to dream big and strive for monumental goals, I maintain that in order to keep the motivational momentum going, you will need to take time to celebrate the small victories. If you just wrote a chapter in a book you are writing, hit a weight loss goal, or completed a tough exam; be sure to celebrate progress in whatever goals you are pursuing. You will find that small goals will spur on future motivation, pushing you towards completion of your big picture goals.