Celebrate Your Victories

I’m worse about this than most. This one is mostly a reminder to myself.

Most of us are hard-wired to blow off victory.

That’s a pretty drastic statement, I know. But how often have you waved off a compliment with something like it was nothing? How often have you lost sight of everything you’ve accomplished because of the one thing you didn’t do? How often have you looked at what others have done and discounted your own achievements?

Here’s the deal: it wasn’t nothing, you did enough, and what those others did doesn’t really matter. Give yourself a break. Celebrate your victory.

I’m not talking about getting in somebody’s face and rubbing in how bad you just burned them. That’s not celebration. That’s bragging, and it makes people want to tear you down. It’s part of the reason we don’t like to celebrate victory–we don’t like to be seen to brag.

I’m not talking about demanding recognition. Recognition is nice. Rewards are good to have. But in the end, they’re not in your control, and demanding them just makes people not want to work with you.

But taking a few seconds to dance in the end zone before getting back to work? That’s not bragging. That’s not demanding recognition. That’s saying I just did something really hard and really cool. I’m taking a minute to recognize it.

I think getting back to work may be the key. We have this idea that celebration marks an ending, a final victory, that until a journey is over and we’ve accomplished everything, there’s nothing to celebrate.

But when you’re climbing a mountain, you take a few minutes every now and then to look around and enjoy the scenery. You set a goal on the way to the top–a ledge, a clearing, a particularly impressive rock–and you decide when I get there, I’m going to rest a minute and take a look around. And when you get there, you rest a minute and take a look around. You marvel at the landscape around you. You look back and your jaw drops when you realize how far you’ve come.

You’re not bragging, and you’re not demanding anything (the mountain wouldn’t care if you did). You’re just taking a moment to recognize what you’ve accomplished, snap a picture or two, and probably fist-bump your climbing partner because he or she has accomplished a lot as well. And after you’ve taken your moment, you trudge on. Because you still have a long way to go.

Your life is more like that mountain than you might realize. You spend your life climbing, and every now and then you need to rest and recognize how far you’ve come. The mountain doesn’t care. Neither does most of the world. But that doesn’t diminish your accomplishment.

You’ve come a long way. You’re going even farther. Let yourself recognize your victories. Dance in the end zone, take a selfie on the mountain ledge.

Then get back to work. There are plenty more victories ahead.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.
  • Pondering this – I think I grew up with deep understandings about humility – that to be excited about accomplishing a goal was prideful. When I read this, I thought to myself that celebrating is actually extending a simple courtesy to ourselves – the same courtesy we extend to those we love when they are victorious. Great post!

    • H. Scott Dalton

      I love the way you put things, Alyson, and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Thanks for the comment!