Celebrating Success Reduces Stress: Why it’s worth stopping to recognize your wins

When was the last time you stopped to appreciate and celebrate the accomplishment of an important goal or milestone?

Maybe it was a great result for a client, a breakthrough with your staff, or even quality time with family? Perhaps it was just keeping it together for another month.

These days business professionals spend a lot of time obsessing about the future. Yet we’ve been conditioned to immediately move from the completion of one goal to the next – pressing forward, accelerating to whatever is next. After all, who’s got time to stop when there is so much to do and so little time?

I was stuck in that loop too. 

I’d get things done. Big things. Important things. Things that took a long time and lots of energy. Things that made a real difference. And then I’d go “check” – what’s next? And move on to the next thing.

I never took the time to appreciate what I had accomplished, what I had learned, and the difference I was making for others – and myself. It was exhausting. It became harder and harder to stay motivated and it felt like I was burning out pretty regularly – and more frequently.

it wasn’t sustainable. I knew something was missing, but I didn’t know what it was.

Then I found it. It hit me in the head like a 2×4 when I saw these questions in an annual planning process: 

“What were your wins last year?”

“How did you celebrate them?”

“How will you celebrate your wins in the coming year?”

I had never seen those questions put that way as part of creating a plan. It made me see that the celebration was the missing piece. It made me dig deeper to learn how time to celebrate really helps – and I found there are real tangible psychological benefits that I’d been missing.

According to Psychology Today, Celebrating is really good for us in a number of ways.

Celebration helps meet our need for inclusion, innovation appreciation, and collaboration. Our brains are designed to be social – and the need for human contact is even greater than the need for safety. Making time to celebrate with others – even if you can’t be physically together – gives people the confidence to do new things, take chances, and share new ideas with others. It also allows our brains to create new neurological connections – and then work to reinforce those connections with more success.

Celebration releases endorphins, and oxytocin in the brain which creates a sense of well-being and safety that we need to experiment, learn, and handle the challenges of our professions. Serotonin helps your brain focus, increase motivation, and transform negative stress into positive stress. You also get a dopamine hit that helps you pay attention, ignore distractions, and solve problems. All that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?  

It absolutely is worth having. Getting started is as easy as Stop, Look, and Connect & Celebrate..

    1. Stop. If you’re moving too fast you can’t see what is really going on. It’s how all the telephone poles seem to disappear when you’re moving really fast.
    2. Look. Notice what you have accomplished in that day or in that hour. What are you proud of? What kind of moment have you experienced? What experience have you provided to others? What have you learned?
    3. Connect & Celebrate. Connect with the moment and with those in your tribe. Toot your own horn. Share the wins with others. It might be as small as a high-five with a friend after a really good result. It might be a dinner or a vacation. It can be many things – as long as you allow it to happen, and do it often. Don’t put “celebrating” as another thing on your “someday” to-do list.

Include celebration in your plans. How will you celebrate achieving the milestones on the way to a larger goal? What will you do when you achieve the goal. Share the coming celebration when you share the goal with your team. Just doing that will help you achieve the goal. 

Building this habit can be difficult. It can take a while. And it’s totally worth it.

Think back on the last month.

What do you have to celebrate? It’s been a really tough year, but there must be something – right?

What will you celebrate at the end of the next quarter?


p.s. What if your annual plan included celebrations? Our template does. Get your Free copy at this link.

Doug BrownCelebrating Success Reduces Stress: Why it’s worth stopping to recognize your wins