What will you do when you accomplish one of your goals for the year?1
Should you cross it off your list and move straight to the next thing without missing a beat?
No, you need to pause to celebrate.
What Celebration Means
Celebration doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t need to involve a party. It doesn’t even need to involve spending money or “rewarding” yourself for all your hard work on that goal.2
Maybe the terminological difference between “rewards” and “celebrations” is largely semantic.3 But to me, emphasizing the language of “celebration” has two material upsides.
First, it relates more readily to gratitude than does “reward.” Second, “celebration” suffers less from the possibly consumerist or entitlement connotations in language about “reward.”
What counts as a “celebration” for you can be something comparatively small. It might mean
- Telling someone close to you that you finished that article and got it submitted to a journal,
- Having a special dinner with your spouse,
- Taking an extra few hours away from your academic work to spend with your kids, or
- Doing any of a host of other things that might, yes, also sometimes even include having a party. 🙂
Celebration Is about Thankfulness
The point is that celebration is about thankfulness. It’s about gratitude. It’s about being intentional in noticing that where you are isn’t where you were.
You can plunge straight ahead from accomplishing one goal into the next. But doing so ignores that you haven’t gotten from where you were to where you are on your own.
And especially over the long haul, it will be good for both you and those around you if you intentionally find ways to celebrate progress that reflect that gratitude.
So, if you don’t already have plans for how you’ll celebrate when you accomplish the various goals you have for this year, take a few moments to start thinking about that.
You might even make some notes alongside your goals. That way, you can have some prompts about how you’ve decided to pause to celebrate and give thanks as you complete your goals through the year.
As you do, remember that the point isn’t to do anything fancy. It’s simply to be intentional about how you choose to mark, celebrate, and be grateful for the progress you’re making.
Header image provided by Erwan Hesry. ↩
For pressing the value of commemorating goal accomplishment, I’m particularly grateful to Michael S. Hyatt, Your Best Year Ever: A Five-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2018); Michael S. Hyatt, Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2019). ↩
For example, Hyatt tends to discuss commemoration in the language of “reward.” But he does sometimes talk explicitly in terms of “celebration.” So, the semantics for him may simply connote something a bit different than they do for me. ↩