This post is dedicated to my friend Rachel who passed a MAJOR doctoral milestone yesterday. Congrats, Rach – I raise a virtual glass to you!
Did you know that celebrating your achievements is one of the most important steps in goal setting?
Too often, we carefully craft our goals, and pour energy and effort into achieving them, but when we get to where we were heading, we don’t stop to enjoy where we are.
This is like a mountaineer training for years to climb Everest, doing the climb with all the pain and effort that takes, reaching the top, and with her head down, turning immediately for the descent.
It’s like a gardener carefully planning his vineyard, pouring a season of blood and sweat into growing prize grapes, then leaving them to rot on the vine.
Chalene Johnson (in her excellent podcast “Give Yourself Permission to Rest”) calls celebration “the harvest stage.” As I reflected on this, and on the rhythms of gardening in Era, I realised harvest does have something to teach us about celebration in goal-setting.
Be Nourished by Achieving Your Goal
My friends in Era grew and harvested their crops for a purpose – to feed themselves and their families. You set your goals for a purpose too, but it’s easy to lose sight of that and make achieving the goal the point, in and of itself. It’s not the point, any more than prize grapes rotting on a vine are the point. How does achieving your goal nourish you, your family and your community? If your goal was to start an online business in X niche making Y amount by Z date, the purpose of which was to allow you to travel the world, but you start that business, make that amount and are way too busy with your new business to even think about travelling the world, then your grapes are rotting on the vine. Make sure you “eat” from your harvest.
Successes are For Sharing
Rarely in Era could I pass a friend on a path and not be stopped. She’d call out to me, swing her bag off her forehead, and share with me from the abundance of her day’s harvest. On the way home, she’s stop in to a relative’s house and share some more.
Harvests are meant to be shared – they are for other’s benefits as well as our own. I know that some of us don’t feel that our harvests are very abundant at the moment, and it’s easier to hoard than to share, but the truth is counter-intuitive: the quickest way to move from a feeling of scarcity to a feeling of abundance is to share.
This doesn’t mean giving away so much that you don’t have enough to live well yourself, but it doesn’t take much to give a little hand up here or there. Maybe you finally nailed getting regular sleep, and you’re starting to feel amazing. Can you use your newfound energy to do something special for someone else? Maybe your business finally started making a profit. Can you set aside a percentage to give to a start-up fund for other entrepreneurs? Maybe you finally got an opportunity that you’ve been working towards for quite some time – can you invite a friend who would also benefit? Maybe you finally nailed your PhD thesis – can you give some tips to a student a year or so behind you? This can be a way of celebrating too!
Celebrate Small Successes Regularly
We shouldn’t ignore the everyday successes while we wait for the big harvest. In Era, small scale harvest happened regularly and provided what we ate every day. Look at your goal again. What are the milestones along the way? If your goal is a practice-based goal, then keeping that practice every day for a week is an achievement. If your goal is a step-based goal, then achieving the next step is an achievement. We need to celebrate little achievements more regularly and more whole-heartedly. One of my step-based goals is writing my PhD thesis, but right now, every draft that I write is a reason to celebrate, no matter how much revision is still needed, no matter how many chapters are still to come. So it should be! Pump your fists, raise your glass – you’re making progress!
Celebrate Your Achievements
In Era, friends wouldn’t just harvest, they would also celebrate the harvest, because being nourished and sharing aren’t the same thing as throwing a party. If your goal was to start an online business in X niche making Y amount by Z date, the purpose of which was to allow you to travel the world and you DO in fact start the business and travel the world, then you have harvested well, but that doesn’t mean you’ve celebrated.
I did a Masters a few years ago. It was a hard thing for me to set out to do because I did it at the same time as co-running a charity that was pretty all-consuming, with the catch that the charity was at one end of the country and the required Masters classes were at the other end of the country. The Masters wasn’t the one I would have chosen for fun – it’s purpose was making me eligible for a funded PhD . When I finished I “harvested” it. The fruits of my Masters nourished me well and I went on to do the PhD, but harvesting wasn’t enough; I needed to stop and celebrate too. I needed to raise a glass and a bound dissertation and hang out with friends on a rooftop because I had finished! I needed to graduate, surrounded by friends and family. I needed to don gold shoes and skip along the streets. I needed to mark the moment, before I went back to work.
I needed to celebrate, and so do you.
Again and again we hear that achieving goals is not as fun as working towards them. We hear that getting to where you’re heading is actually anti-climatic. We hear that once you’re there, the next step is figuring out where next. Well, I’m not going to settle for that. I’m going to stop before I ask “What’s next?” lift up my head and soak in the view from where I am. Celebrations can be simple or they can be enormous, but they need to happen.
Featured Image by Pixabay user “Counselling.”
All other images from the personal collection of Rachel Hughes Shah.