Celebrating small wins

In a previous post, I’ve talked about managing self-doubt. And now that I’m taking action to pedal myself forward, I learned to try and enjoy reaching my goals.

A huge goal, like winning a race, isn’t an instant thing we can achieve and have to work hard for. It will take a lot of effort beforehand, and sometimes this can be frustrating and would make you lose your focus.

That’s why I’ve learned(coached) to reward myself along the way. I celebrate my small wins. This week was a big breakthrough for me. For months, I’ve made attempts at Singapore’s infamous ‘Crazies’ or ‘Hammer’ ride. Knowing full well that each week would be a test of my fitness, skills and confidence on the bike, I turned up week after week just to give it a go. On Sunday January 24th, it all fell into place, and I found myself not only hanging on longer, but amongst the final sprint to the finish.

Let’s face it, I still have a tonne of work to do. But this small breakthrough was almost unbelievable. I arrived at the post-ride drink stop, immediately wanting to know if it was a ‘slow’ day. Much to my surprise, while it was a few minutes off the fastest days, it was a normal week. Meaning my performance was real. Woo hoo.

Check out the onboard footage from the ride:

Why does this matter? Because “being happy makes us more successful”.[1]

Shawn Achor, psychologist who is CEO of Good Think Inc. and researches about positive psychology, says that there is a common misconception that if we work hard, we’ll be successful and will make us happy. He argues that actually, “happiness inspires us to be more productive.”[2]

So my analytical mind kicked into gear, wanting to researching what to do with breakthroughs. It seems fairly simple, we need to acknowledge them and celebrate them.

How do we do this then?

  1. Break your goal into smaller chunks – Aiming for something like finishing with the ‘Crazies’ may seem impossible. This is why one should set smaller chunks. Like they say, one step (or ride) at a time for you to feel nearer to your goal without feeling overwhelmed. Most cyclists are familar with Strava, that can help you.  This GPS cycling and running app keeps track of your ride and helps you compare your effort against past efforts. Strava can show your measured improvement, and help you see where you are in your goals. For me, each week I aimed to stick with the group a little more.
  2. Set weekly goals – Strava includes a feature where you can join a cycling challenge. This will help you keep energized and inspired. Add the fact that you may socialize with fellow cyclists that can be your support system while reaching your goals. Mileage or time in the saddle goals create small, measured achievable goals.

    Tour de France 2013 stage-18
    Alpe-d’Huez- France – wielrennen – cycling – radsport – cyclisme – Christopher Froome (Great Britain / Team Sky) and Richie Porte (Australia / Team Sky) pictured during the 100th Tour de France 2013 stage-18 from Gap to Alpe-d’Huez – photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2013
  3. Forgive yourself! – If you aren’t able to accomplish a goal right away, that’s okay! Everyone does it. Recognize where you lose focus and pick up right where you left off. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
  4. Celebrate – We each have our own way of drawing energy from an achievement. It might be with family, or recognition at the end of ride coffee. But whatever your personality needs, make sure you take the time to celebrate the milestone. A few of the guys in the Crazies pack knew just how important finishing with the pack was for me, and shared their congrats. Especially the guys that have been helping my progress.

Celebrating your success is a reminder to take a much-needed break, allows you to set bigger and bolder goals, and build confidence. It is also invites yourself to reflect on whether your actions and wins are still aligned with what you want to achieve. [3]

For me the next goal remains repeating the efforts of last Sunday. With one successful finish under the belt, it gives my confidence for next time.

What about you? How do you celebrate your small wins? Did it help you achieve greater success?

[1] Positive psychology: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246817

[2] http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work?language=en

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/02/24/want-to-keep-those-resolutions-then-learn-to-celebrate-your-wins/

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