4 Ways to Celebrate Small Victories At Work

It’s the little things.

By Lauren McGoodwin

Ed. note: This post was originally published in July 2019 when (needless to say), things were a little different. Although most of us are working from home right now with COVID-19, we think it’s more important than ever to stay excited and motivated in our jobs, and this post from last year includes some inspiring ways to do it. Even though we may not have coworkers surrounding us acknowledging and congratulating us for hitting our small goals, it’s so important to realize that it’s those small goals we hit that eventually add up to something big. Keep it up, friend! You and your career goals still matter now as much as they did before the pandemic. 

Recently, my company reached a big milestone. The thing that was different with this one? We actually took time as a team to recognize it by hitting a local restaurant for a long lunch to discuss our plans for the coming year—both personal and professional—and we reveled in this milestone. It got me thinking that we need to do this more often. I know we all love to joke about millennials and their “participation trophies,” but small victories are still victories. When we refuse to slow down and take it in, time inevitably flies by. Before you know it, another year has passed—and you feel as if you’ve done nothing.

Here’s the thing, challenges will always be there waiting for us. We will always compare ourselves to others, have to quiet our inner critics yet again, and strive for that next best thing.

That’s why I think it’s imperative to celebrate victories, milestones, and achievements. Without recognition, they get muddled by the demands of a fast-paced world. Here are a few ways I am choosing to slow down and revel in a little light.

photo by kristen kilpatrick


anine bing morning routine

photo by steven simko

Make a List of Rewards

Remember when your mom used to promise that, if you were good all day, there would be an ice cream waiting at the end of it? This is the same idea, but this time you’re acting as your own mom. Make a list of small, medium, and large rewards. If you arrived to work early every day this week, hit up the fancy sandwich place for lunch. If you exceed that monthly traffic goal, you might take your marketing team to lunch. When a giant company comes knocking at your door ready to acquire your company at a hefty price tag, girl, you’re going to Hawaii.

These rewards don’t have to be literal rewards or physical rewards. They can be positive affirmations, a break from your desk, or a much-needed personal day. The important thing is that you make some lists—and maybe create some goals with rewards.

photo by kristen kilpatrick

Track Your Progress

Many of us get bogged down in big goals, especially at an organizational level. If management pins a number to your back, you might feel that you haven’t achieved anything until you’ve achieved that number.

Track your own progress. Especially when faced with a seemingly insurmountable goal, break it up into smaller, more manageable pieces. Track your progress on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Give yourself timelines in which to achieve these pieces of the larger goal.

Reward yourself, even if it’s just a pat on the back, when you hit each of these goals. Incremental success will feed into the larger victory.

photo by kristen kilpatrick

Communicate Your Success

Listen up because this is a big one—and one that women have a harder time with. When you experience a windfall of success, say it out loud. Say it to your boss, your deskmate, your mom, your significant other, and the person who sits next to you on the train.

Often, we experience success, silently smile inwardly, and move onto the next problem. When we say things out loud—and to others—it makes them more “real.” Take a moment to verbally express your success. Get some positive responses from those around you. You’ve earned it.

coffee date

photo by kristen kilpatrick

Actually Reward Yourself

So, you hit that big goal! Now is the time to actually reward yourself. Maybe your reward is something as simple as that 3 o’clock fancy coffee. Whatever it is, take the moment to really soak it in. Write it down in your planner. Remember this moment and plan for many moments like this in the future.

If we don’t start by celebrating ourselves, we simply cannot expect others to celebrate for us. Take the time to slow down and show gratitude to your biggest champion, you.