It’s easy to get bogged down in the minutia of making your dream happen – 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.
We 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