Celebrate the awards and accolades you receive in your quest for fulfillment in whatever it is you do. When you work hard at something, you expect to be rewarded. You demand to be rewarded. However, many times we only celebrate the rewards that come at the end – when the task is finished, when the goal has been achieved, or when the day has been won. Don’t ignore the little awards that come along the way, especially when the eventual finish line is undefined or nowhere in sight. If you ignore the little flashes of brilliance with bullheaded focus on the end, then the journey will be monotonous and you might reach the end exhausted and destroyed instead of rejuvenated and rejoicing. Let me get away from the vagaries and speak concretely about what I mean.
One prime example is at work… many times you don’t have an ultimate goal. You may have milestones such as finish this project, win a client, or complete the degree. Along the way, actually celebrate those goals even if it means you lose focus, for a little while, on the end. At my work, there are numerous monetary and status awards that are given for a job well done. Monetarily the rewards (for non-executives of course) are as small as a $100 “pat on the back” gift card to as much as a few thousands dollars for excellent work on a specific project. There are also status awards that come with no money but instead you are rewarded with plaques or paperweights. In both cases, celebrate them with the ones you care about no matter how meaningless they appear. $100 is a mere $60 or so after taxes, but don’t just sock it away in your bank account to be engulfed by the other dollars – spend it. Enjoy it. At the end of the year, you’ll look back and think about how you did a great job, they gave you $100, and you got something nice with it.
Also create little milestones for yourself so you have the opportunity to celebrate in case it’s something in which there is no external watcher. Grab a beer from the bar at the golf range the first time you drive one of their crappy balls past 300 yards. Just don’t grab too many before you drive home. If you’re taking classes, put up your good grades on the fridge as if you were in grade school again.
I was taught this lesson by my girlfriend, front and center, two weeks ago when we decided to go to Michael’s and get the New York Times article framed. In terms of life events, appearing in the newspaper was pretty cool but framing came with a hefty price tag of about $200. I didn’t want to get it, even though she was offering to buy it for me, because $200 can get you a lot of things. Sparkly things. Sparkly things that girls like. But… I’d been writing this blog out of fun and self-education and she thought it was important to celebrate the event and she was right.
Celebrate the little things because they make life sweet.