Small Wins Matter (Here’s How To Start Making Them Feel Like They Do)
Big wins are worth celebrating, of course, but don’t forget all the necessary steps you took to get there. They need their time, too.
By Eric Alt | Created: 10/22/2021 | Updated: 11/04/2021 | 3 min read
We all the want the big wins. It’s natural. There’s a reason sports and action movies do training montages – no one wants to see every minute of incremental progress, all the little ways a character improved and all of the obstacles they overcame. We just want to get to the final victory as quickly as possible.
But life doesn’t work in montages (but we all secretly know what our music would be if it did). Big victories don’t just emerge fully formed, they are built, piece by piece, with little victories. So why don’t we celebrate those the same way?
In a piece for the Harvard Business Review, authors Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer identify what they call the “progress loop” – essentially, it means that a positive inner life drives performance, which results in goals achieved, which in turn shows consistent progress, which then reinforces the positive inner life. Waiting for the big wins and only the big wins means you’re not fueling that inner life enough, and you’ll eventually run out of steam. But recognizing that progress is more important than victory means you’ll keep your progress loop well oiled and churning along.
So how do we do it? A lot of the work can be achieved by simply changing your perspective. Keep in mind the famous Thomas Edison quote about the eventual invention of the lightbulb, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” What happens then is the opposite of anxiety – instead of worrying about things that are out of your control, you pause and pat yourself on the back about the things you could control and did. It’s subtle, but it does wonders for your confidence, motivation, and happiness. That “inner life” that fuels your progress loop.
Other ways you can mark little victories as you build towards big ones include…
After you break down large goals into smaller ones, mark each one with something you enjoy – a favorite snack, a small trinket, even just a nap – to keep yourself motivated and moving forward. Is it a little bit like a dangled carrot? Sure, but you’re holding the stick and the reward is personal and attainable.
Putting strict deadlines on goals can lead to feelings of failure, and diminish the little steps of progress along the way. Be flexible with your time limits, and this will increase your happiness and motivation as you hit those small wins.
Show Your Work
Writing down or tracking your progress will remind you of how far you’ve come in achieving your goal. Write down all the small wins – seeing them documented and archived can be a reward in and of itself.
Tell A Few (But Not Everyone)
Sure, “Likes” and heart emojis feel good, but that instant gratification might start to satisfy your inner drive and actually hinder your momentum rather than drive it forward. Instead of posting every little win, just share it with a few close friends or loved ones, and save the big “Ta da!” social posts for the bigger victories ahead.
Feeling good is more than just a physical sensation. Sure, Flexpower Warm actually works with your body to ease soreness and help your feel stronger and more active, but that’s just one component in a larger, more holistic movement. It’s just like the progress loop: When you feel good, you have more motivation. When you have motivation, you achieve more. When you achieve more…you feel good. You can stop existing in ruts, and start living in loops.