“The great victory, which appears so simple today, was the result of a series of small victories that went unnoticed.” – Paulo Coelho
Earlier this month, we spent time discussing how the beginning of the year is a great time to set new intentions. Many of these intentions are complex and long-term, like decreasing consumption of alcohol and other vices, losing unwanted weight, or learning a new skill.
In pursuit of our goals, we tend to get fixated on the destination, forgetting to enjoy and reward ourselves for the small wins along the journey. Anything that begins as a goal takes hundreds, maybe thousands of tiny actions to achieve and if we judge ourselves solely by the end result, we rob ourselves of the life lessons, growth, and transformation cultivated along the voyage.
We must congratulate ourselves everyday for the tiny choices that put us on the path – that healthy lunch, that afternoon of studying, passing on that third glass of wine, that morning you woke up early to run on the treadmill for 20 minutes. By honoring our small wins, we help reinforce positive choices and as momentum builds, its easier to pick up and dust off when we fall off course.
Many of us believe that it is what we acquire that makes us who we are: the chiseled physique, that new house, the expensive watch, those jet skis. However, it is not what you acquire that makes you who you are, it is who you become in the process of chasing what you want to acquire.
Ken Nwadike Jr., documentary filmmaker, motivational speaker and peace activist is popularly known as the “Free Hugs Guy.” After viewing the devastation of the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, he was determined to be a participant in the next race. In 2014, he failed to qualify for the Boston Marathon by just 23 seconds, so he decided to attend the event in a different way. He provided free hugs to runners as encouragement along the route (a small win). This simple act made national news headlines and lifted runners’ spirits. Today, Ken’s courageous work as a peace activist is helping to heal and narrow the social, political and racial divide that currently exists throughout our country. Ken still made it to the Boston Marathon by embracing who he became in the process of chasing his goal.
This is what’s known as a cognitive reframe, a technique that is used to shift one’s mindset so one is able to look at a situation from a slightly different, more positive perspective. One sure way of doing this is to celebrate your small wins!
If we can find a sense of daily achievement in the small things, we are not only more likely to stay on track toward our goal, we get more enjoyment from the process of getting there.