We all grow up celebrating big events. We through parties for birthdays, weddings, religious and civic festivals, major accomplishments at school and work. These are times to take pride in our accomplishments and to look forward to bright futures. When we initiate the celebration this is even more powerful because it sends a positive message to ourselves as well as those we want to share the event with. Celebrations can also be intimate, shared with the people closest to us.
It is also important to get into the habit of rejoicing in the small victories. Especially when the road is tough, sometimes milestones are not a great distance from one another but the distance between them is more challenging and requires more from you.
Ever since I was a small child I’ve had a fascination with high mountains, and especially the highest of them all – Mount Everest in Nepal. The Nepalese call it Chomolongma, or “Mother Goddess” It stands at 8,851 metres. Climbing Everest, like any other great mountain, requires moving through a series of stages at which the climbers set up camps. As the climbers move up the mountain, the stages and major hurdles become seemingly close to one another. But because so much of the mountain is above 8000 metres (often referred to as the “death zone” because your body cannot survive unassisted) movement is extremely difficult and slow but also increasingly vital.
Now I’ve never climbed a great mountain, but they remain powerful symbols for movement through some of life’s great challenges, whether moving toward some accomplishment, or mastery of some aspect of our life practice. If you are a visual person, an image like this can be useful to visualise the tasks you have in front of you.
Like making an attempt on the summit, it is necessary to break it down into the smaller vital objectives. Achievement at each stage has to be celebrated. This is the essence of positive reinforcement. If our sights are so firmly set on the summit that we fail to appreciate our efforts getting there, we deny ourselves the opportunity to let the process strengthen and teach us along the way. Without this, we lessen the value of the enterprise as a whole. So with every small victory, in some small but meaningful way celebrate your efforts. When you do it may also be a good idea to take stock of your journey. What went right? What didn’t go as planned? What would you do differently?
You see, you can empower this process by celebrating not just the fact that you have achieved your objective, but that you have learned and refined your approach along the way. You can reflect on the mistakes you have avoided, as well as the ones that you have become aware of. Of course, it’s great to just get things right, but surely it’s more important to become increasingly aware of the mistakes we make along the road so we can learn from them. With each stage then, we need to celebrate the cultivation of this growing awareness, which will be one of the foundation stones of our future.
In this way, celebration is not something frivolous at all. On the contrary it is a vital ingredient for continued and lasting success.