Practical ways to focus on the small wins

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So full disclosure, I wrote this post for myself. I have a really hard time celebrating my small wins. I always feel that I could have done more, could have done it faster, or even better. All of those doubts seem to wipe away the progress that I have made.

Does anyone else have this problem?

I knew I needed some practical and actionable steps that I could take to ensure that I’m focusing on my small wins.

This is what I came up with.

Stop comparing

If you’re excited because you just lost 5 pounds, and then you log onto social media and see that one of your friends lost 68, suddenly your accomplishment seems to pale slightly in comparison.

Don’t let it! 

Your accomplishments are your own. You don’t know what the other person has been through, and they don’t know what you’ve been through. Everyone is different.

Comparisons always cause issues because they either make you feel better than you really are, or worse than you really are.

The only person you should be comparing yourself to is…yourself. Compare where you are today with where you were last year or vice versa.

This analogy sounds crazy, but in the real world, if there was a race, would you compare a bike to an airplane in terms of speed? Would you really be shocked if the airplane went faster? We’re all airplanes in some areas of our life and bikes in others. 

Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, you just be the best YOU that you can be.

Break your to do list up into smaller items

Ok, you’re probably going to think this is crazy, but once, on my to-do list, I had ‘write a book’. Now this wasn’t a ‘5 year plan list’. This was literally on the same list as ‘pick up milk from the store.’ No kidding.

For days, months and at least a year, I’d see it every day and feel frustrated, that I still couldn’t check it off of my list.

Eventually I did finish writing my book, but I didn’t feel proud of myself AT ALL until it was done. I missed out on so many milestones.

All I had to do was break that one item down into smaller items. Write an outline. Research locations. Come up with names. Write chapter 1. Finish 10,000 words.

I missed out on all of that stuff, simply because in my mind, they didn’t matter. They weren’t good enough milestones because they weren’t accomplishing what I was setting out to accomplish.

If I had taken the time to break down my list, I would have felt like I was making progress, because I really was, I just wasn’t recognizing it. So how do you break things down?

Typically I like to use google-keep for my to-do lists. I love that my list is with me at all times, and I love that there is an option for sub-bullets. This means that I can have one large goal, but right under it, I can have 4 smaller goals that will help me understand the progress I’m making.

But, if you aren’t feeling the computer list and like a pen and paper to-do list, you’ve got to check out this journal that I just discovered. I love it because it has a column for due-dates, which already helps me feel more organized. It also has a priority ranking system. But the coolest thing to me is, every day it pulls out your 3 most important tasks and separates them from all other to-do’s.

No matter which method you use to store your to-do list, make sure you are breaking up those large goals.

Set reasonable goals

If I’m being honest, most days my to do list looks like it’s on steroids. And it’s pretty much impossible. It’s like I’ve already set myself up for failure and the day hasn’t even begun.

I need to be more reasonable about what I can accomplish in a day. I have to not load my plate up so high. This is another reason that the journal I mentioned above is so helpful. It helps you pick just three things to accomplish each day. That is reasonable. Now depending on how big or small your items are, that number can change. But, make sure that you aren’t trying to accomplish too many things.

Also, when setting reasonable goals, it sometimes helps me to estimate how long each item will take me. If I see that I have too many time consuming items, I know it’s best to reduce the number of things I’m trying to achieve that day.

Celebrate everything

After you have reasonable goals, you’ve broken them down into bite sized pieces, and you’ve stopped comparing…..well, then it’s time to celebrate. Seriously. Celebrate your wins.

Now, I’ll caveat this by saying, the celebration should be proportionate to what you’ve accomplished. So if I’ve cleaned my bathroom, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to take a week off of work. But if you do clean your bathroom, why not plan for a bubble bath sometime this week? Or if you finished a big project at work, why not order dinner in. The celebration could be as small as a pat on the back. Really.

The point is, you’re acknowledging that you’ve completed something, and you’re celebrating yourself for it. That’ll keep you motivated and proud of what you’ve done.

At least thats how it works for me. Ha!

So how do you appreciate your small wins? Do you have any tips that I missed? If you do, share them below!

Like I said, this week’s post was mainly for me. I really do struggle with appreciating my small wins. But I’m learning to use these tips to help me appreciate the little things in life, and become better in the process.

Make life sweet and learn all you can.

(6) Comments

  1. Beautiful article and so well-written! I’m the same way. It’s hard to celebrate anything when there are others to compare yourself to. I have learned to celebrate the small things after years of self-doubt and I wish more people would do the same.

    1. Amie says:

      yes, it seems like it would be an easy skill to learn, but it really isn’t. I’m still working on this!

  2. This is so true. We should focus on the small wins. I needed to see this today. I had an interview via Zoom today and feel that I bombed it. But, it was my first one not in person, so I braved that. I didn’t get upset and yell tonight…that’s a small win, too, right? Thank you so much for this. I’ve favorited this page so I can reference it in the future.

    1. Amie says:

      Aww thanks Brittany! Maybe you did better on your interview than you think! And even if you didn’t, just the fact that you were brave enough to go to the interview, especially with it being your first time interviewing on a new platform…. well that’s still a win!

  3. This was a great post and such a reminder for me to not get so consumed in the daily life that I forget to appreciate all the many things I have to be thankful for!

    1. Amie says:

      Thank you! It’s hard, but so important!

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