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 should pause to celebrate.

What Celebration Means

But 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

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, 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’re intentional about finding ways to celebrate progress that reflect that gratitude.

Conclusion

So, if you don’t already have plans for how you’ll celebrate the different goals you have for this year, take a few moments to start thinking about that.

You don’t need to do anything fancy. The important thing is to be intentional about how you choose to celebrate and mark your progress.


  1. Header image provided by Erwan Hesry

  2. 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).

    That said, Hyatt tends to discuss this commemoration in the language of “reward” rather than “celebration.” The terminological difference may be largely semantic. Hyatt does sometimes talk explicitly in the language of “celebration.”

    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.” 

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