31 Days to a Dream: Celebrate Small Successes

success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day outIt’s easy to get bogged down in the minutia of making your dream happe
n – to let the big things weigh you down and find little time to celebrate all the good things that are happening. Instead of taking time to focus on the good things you spend all your time focusing on what’s going wrong or how far you still have to go. One easy way to make sure that you are not focusing on only the things that lead to disappointment or disillusionment is to celebrate small successes.

It’s important to celebrate small successes. This is especially true when you are dealing with large projects or big goals that need to be completed. If you just focus on the big goal and not the little steps that it will take to get there you will most likely become extremely overwhelmed and bogged down. Becoming overwhelmed by the big picture is the fastest way to giving up on a dream.

Don’t focus on the big picture

For us, as we cycled from Alaska to Argentina, we didn’t focus on the big picture at all – it was too big, too vast, too much for our brains to handle. I didn’t wake up every morning thinking, “I’ve still got 16,480 miles to go…” Instead, I focused on the next little “mini-goal” – the next town or the next city with a supermarket. That, in my mind, was doable. I could handle that.

As Mark Beaumont, the man who broke the world record as the fastest person to cycle around the world, said, “I figured if I took care of today – if I did what I had to do today – then the big picture would take care of itself.”

Break your goal into small steps

The best (only?) way to tackle any big task or goal is to break it down into smaller steps. Each time you complete a small step celebrate the fact that you did. By celebrating when you complete each smaller step, you are recognizing the hard work that you have already put in, making the bigger picture of the goal a little bit smaller. That bigger goal no longer feels so overwhelming.

celebrate small successesWe celebrated those small successes in a wide variety of ways. When we reached the end of the Dalton Highway in Alaska, I pulled out my one remaining packet of banana cream pudding and we celebrated with that. Sometimes we celebrated by getting a hotel room rather than sleeping in our tents. Our celebrations varied, but we never failed to rejoice when we reached our next destination.

Celebrate small successes

I remember the exact moment when I realized just how far we had traveled; when I realized how all those small successes added up. All along, we had used regional maps. I had a map of Alaska, then one of the Yukon Territories. A map of British Columbia followed, then Alberta, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah. As we passed through each province, state, or country, I marked off our route with a big black marker. It was pretty cool to see that line slowly inch across the map, but I also knew in the back of my mind, that each one of those maps represented a very small portion of the whole. It wasn’t something I thought about at all – it was just there, in the back of my brain.

And then one day in Panama I walked down the steps of our hotel and came face-to-face with a map of the Americas. My eye went immediately to Panama, then it traveled all the way up to Alaska. Wow! We had come a long way! And then my eye traveled down to the tip of South America and I realized that we were more than halfway finished with our journey. Wow! All those tiny little steps – all those dozens of province, state, and country maps had added up!

The key to accomplishing any large task, I discovered, is to break it into manageable chunks. Celebrate the completion of each of those chunks. Over time, they all add up to something big.


Here are the other posts in this series:

Day 1: Define your dream

Day 2: Believe in yourself

Day 3: Believe in your dream

Day 4: Break out of the rut

Day 5: Go public with your idea

Day 6: Don’t fear failure

Day 7: Change your mindset

Day 8: Commit to your dream

Day 9: Celebrate small successes

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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