Should you cross it off your list and move straight to the next thing without missing a beat? That might be tempting, especially when you’re likely to have any number of other things vying for your attention.
But before you move on, 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.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.
Rewards Are about Entitlement
Thinking in terms of “reward” partly implies some level of entitlement. You achieved x, and because of that, you’ve earned y.
Rewards for achievement can be good, encouraging things. But focusing on rewards can be a bit consumerist or mercenary.
And if they don’t pan out, you might be left feeling deflated rather than motivated—after all, you earned your reward for finishing your goal.
Celebrations Are about Thankfulness
On the other hand, “celebration” suffers less from the possibly consumerist or entitlement connotations in language about “reward.”4
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 number of other things that might, yes, even include having a party.
The point is that celebration is about thankfulness. It’s about gratitude. It’s about intentionally noticing that where you are isn’t where you were.
You can plunge straight ahead from accomplishing one goal into working toward the next. But doing so ignores that you haven’t gotten from where you were to where you are on your own.
So, it will be good for both you and those around you if you intentionally find ways to celebrate progress that reflect that gratitude. And that’s especially true over the long haul.
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.
Make some general notes along these lines where you’ve written out your goals. That way, you’ll have some helpful 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. And through that gratitude, you and those around you will renew your stamina for moving forward into what yet lies ahead.
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 (affiliate disclosure; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2018); Michael S. Hyatt, Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less (affiliate disclosure; Grand Rapids: Baker, 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. ↩