It’s February, which means it’s time to talk about love and relationships. Arguably the most important relationship anybody will have, is with themselves. And a great way to show love to yourself this month, is to celebrate your wins, especially the small wins. 

The truth is that most people are very hard on themselves. If you ask a random person, chances are they will tell you they are not happy where they are or feel they should be further. One might give a slightly more more optimistic response in saying that they are not where they want to be – as yet. But it is very likely that this person, in their response, viewed themselves, not through the lens of what they have done well, but what they’ve done wrong; or what they haven’t done at all.  

Study Shows That Focusing on Progress and Having a Positive Outlook Are Connected 

A very popular 2007 study by Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer from the Harvard Business School found that participants viewed their work days as positive when they recognized any amount of progress. Similarly, their work days were viewed more negatively when they had setbacks. The study also showed that when progress was made, participants were more motivated and had more positive perceptions of their work, the work environment and even their colleagues.  

The study seems to suggest that when the participants focused on their progress, their outlooks were more positive; and likewise, when they focused on their setbacks, their outlooks were more negative. In a later piece from 2011 titled “The Power of Small Wins”, Amabile notes that even the small steps that go ordinarily unnoticed are critical to overall performance. It is important to note here that while the study above focused on the participants’ work performance and perceptions, the results can easily be applied to everyday life.

The Takeaway – Don’t Ignore the Small Wins 

While it is easy for many people to focus on the big things they have done wrong, or haven’t done yet; the study above suggests that focusing on the positive, even the small wins, can change a person’s outlook. And the truth is, it is possible for a lot of time to pass in between the really big wins, so focusing on the small wins are key to keeping your perspective balanced as well as keeping you motivated and satisfied. 

So, in this month of love, show yourself some love by celebrating your wins – no matter how small. Get a pen and paper and write out the small wins that you’ve had in the past week, month and year. Keep track of these from week to week. Maybe you spoke up in a moment when you were afraid. Maybe you were able to ignore a distraction or temptation. Maybe you completed a challenging project at work. Maybe you took steps to address the anxiety or depression you have that people haven’t noticed. Acknowledge these battles that you’ve won. Record the lessons you learned. Even if you fell, celebrate getting back up. Take a look at yourself and not just focus on the ways you’re imperfect, but also take note of all the ways you have grown – even if it isn’t apparent to others as yet.  

…..Which leads to the final point…. 

In many situations, the small wins really aren’t small at all – so own your win and do not wait for others to celebrate with you. Don’t be discouraged if others ignore your wins or don’t celebrate them. Don’t allow others to diminish your wins. If you must celebrate those wins alone, do it. In many situations, others will not understand why your win is a win, but that does not lessen the victory. Clap loudly for yourself. Encourage yourself. Some wins will be just for you and even if you’re alone in celebrating them; do not ignore them. 

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