We have an achievement-compulsive-disorder epidemic on our hands.
“When I get _______ then I’ll celebrate.”
“When I get ______ then I’ll be happy.”
As a society, how many times have we collectively thought this? More digits than pi.
“I’m just goal orientated. I’m driven, I want to meet my full potential, & I don’t have the time to slow down and smell the flowers.”
That sentiment sounds good, but can slide into dangerous territory very quickly, specifically when:
1) I put fulfillment on-hold until said achievement is obtained.
2) I get the achievement, and I immediately move the goal post.
“Of course you have to move the goal post. You clearly don’t understand what it takes to get ahead.”
On the contrary. It’s my biography.
I’ve always been attracted to high-achievers, both romantically and platonically. The go-getter. The active, assertive, ‘on-it’ type. Growing up, my parents were high-achievers. Groneks never quit. They were hard-working and dedicated. While they went after what they wanted, they always took time to celebrate milestones — their own and that of others. We were pretty poor, but my parents took the time and resources to acknowledge birthdays, graduations, job offers, promotions. I remember celebrating very specific things like getting a big part in the school play and my first literary publication. My home life was far from perfect, but this element was spot on — holding achievement & celebration hand in hand. We took time to pause and commemorate the achievement. We took time to stand in awe of the person who achieved it.
The more I live and encounter others, the more I see this is not the norm. High-achievers struggle with taking a moment to celebrate before moving on to the ‘next big thing.’ Those Jones’ aren’t going to keep up with themselves.
I’ve tried (without success) to get celebration-resisters to observe little victories. This feels a lot like trying to convince a 5-year-old who wants gummy bears that he actually wants broccoli instead — a fruitless endeavor. High achievers often object: “If I celebrate little things, I’ll get lazy and complacent.” They posit that taking a moment to celebrate will decrease their drive. To which I respond literally every institution disagrees with you. Employers give their employees paid time off, communicating that time to reflect, unwind, and celebrate with loved ones is important. Restaurants give space between courses to revel in the dish that came before. Organized religions celebrate holy days (holidays) as a time to connect with each other and the divine. I could give countless other reasons, but have come to realize that logically trying to convince a celebration-resister is not effective. Much like motivation, the desire to celebrate must come from within.
Every high-achiever must get to this place in their own growth first: success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure. Failure isn’t falling short of what you wanted, it’s getting what you wanted and still not being satisfied. That’s the real tragedy. Only when we value fulfillment as much as success will we start to see the value of celebrating.
I’m beginning to see your point. How do I change my ways?
1. Think small.
Get good at mini-celebrations. Don’t think big scale (like graduations or career change). Those events happen too infrequently to form a celebratory habit. Think smaller.
2. Have the chocolate cake.
Celebrating the small things should be a daily exercise. There’s a terrific bakery down the street, of which I am a regular patron. First name basis, thank you 💁. I buy a slice of chocolate cake (practically) every day. The guy behind the counter, Wess, always gives me that puzzled you eat so much cake for such a small person look. After a full day of leaving it all on the field, coming home to a slice of cake and a glass of pinor noir is a ritual I look forward to it. It’s my way of celebrating my efforts on a regular basis. Chocolate cake might not be your thing (having trouble believing such people exist), but it’s important to find other small ways of celebrating every day.
3. Write it down.
I have a Win Jar on my kitchen counter. Whenever I have a small victory, I write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. A risk I took. A moment of vulnerability. A world-series-level date. A favorable outcome resulting from good choices. Right around New Years Eve, I open each piece of paper and read it. It’s a precious ritual: a moment to reflect on how I’ve grown over the year, as well as a time to get excited about all that the new year holds. This is the thing high-achievers often miss — celebration is a terrific motivator.
4. Choose the pompoms.
Relationships are a choice and we need to choose cheerleaders. I’ve learned that the ability to celebrate is a non-negotiable when it comes to selecting those who have access to me and my life. When you achieve something, big or small, you want those in your inner circle to say something along the lines of ‘That’s incredible! Let’s celebrate. Thursday. You. Me. Happy Hour.’ These types of people are relational goldmines — precious, rare, and abundant. Willingness to celebrate victories communicates not just that you see the work that went into the achievement, but that you see who I became in the process. These are the kind of people you want to hold onto. They will bring you from one degree of glory to the next.
So, come join me. Think small. Have the chocolate cake. Write it down. Choose the pompoms.
It’s time we embraced a celebratory spirit.
It’s time we moved toward contentment.
It’s time our outward success matched our inward fulfillment.
It’s time to celebrate this article I just wrote. I’m going to grab a slice of cake. Question is, will you be joining me?
5/19/2019 10:34:42 am
Such a great concept! Love the win jar. What a great way to celebrate and see how far you’ve come!!
5/19/2019 01:42:59 pm
Yes, it's one of my favorite habits 🤗
5/20/2019 06:46:50 am
" Celebrate Good Times.....Come On! It's a Celebration! " Those words herald one of my favorite party songs. If its notes don't make you want to get up and dance, then, maybe you are asleep! Life is filled with so many challenges and disappointments. It is foolish for us not to stop and celebrate the happy moments which make us smile and take our breath away. We were created to be people of joy. So, let us be joyful! I love this post Marybeth! It warms my heart that you remembered all our past family celebrations. They were and are important milestones in themselves. They define our family and our values. Celebrating every day, even the smallest victories, is what gives our life spark. When you say "Failure isn’t falling short of what you wanted, it’s getting what you wanted and still not being satisfied." , you are clearly stating our pitfall, our moral weakness. As we strive to achieve more each day, we fail to realize that there will always be more to do. Our journey to become better people never ends. We will never be fully satisfied. So, why rob ourselves of the opportunity to rejoice for something good we have achieved today and immediately start planning for what we can do tomorrow? I love your win jar! It is big and made with thick clear class. Its lid is heavy with a sturdy knob. It is a proper receptacle for your many wins! It treasures them and keeps them same as a daily reminder of what you have achieved and how far you have come. I think I am going to start a win jar! Thanks for the inspiration. Right now, to celebrate me reading this wonderful post and, in honor of the wonderful and beautiful woman who wrote it, I am going to celebrate! I will brew an amazing pot of coffee and fill my monster coffee cup with lots of cream and sugar. I will sit on my balcony and watch the sun's morning rays turn the waters of Glen Lake into sparkling diamonds! Thank you Lord God for another beautiful day in which we get to celebrate that we are alive! Thank you Marybeth for the reminder!
5/20/2019 07:04:36 pm
What a sweet comment ! THANKS MOM!!
8/9/2019 08:10:36 am
Congrats on a lovely, heart-felt and inspiring post! I too am a celebrator, but I (more than occasionally) fall into the trap of "let's wait till it's official".
8/9/2019 11:25:07 pm
Oh my gosh Fabiana! Congratulations on the book deal. Seriously. Such an accomplishment. You don't just deserve a slice - you get the whole damn cake!
12/6/2019 08:28:39 pm
All of us have different perspective in life, and that is something that we need to embrace. People like this are so grounded because they don't see celebrating so big as part of the things they should necessarily do. As long as they have achieved something, what matters is their loved ones appreciated it. I always believe that we should focus on the things that matter because that is where growth can be found. if we start doing the right thing, I am sure it will continue!
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