Goals are important to have. They create purpose, provide a destination, and inspire us to achieve.
But the end game isn’t everything. It’s supported by a journey that requires intention, focus, discipline and care. Small wins are one element of the journey that, when sufficiently nurtured, can fuel an individual or team toward the finish line.
“Small wins” are tangible actions that indicate progress. They demonstrate that you’re on the right path and are easy to identify if you’re tracking your progress towards that bigger end goal.
Really, “small wins” are not small at all. They are significant indicators of direction and offer valuable opportunities for managers to recognize behaviours conducive to a high performing culture; qualities like effort, perseverance, problem solving and contribution, just to name a few.
Positive psychology research has shown that frequently celebrating smaller accomplishments has a bigger impact on one’s drive and engagement than waiting for that one, big milestone to celebrate. Why is this the case?
According to research by Teresa Amabile from Harvard Business School, people who tracked their small achievements every day enhanced their motivation. Any accomplishment, no matter how small, releases dopamine and boosts your mood, motivation and attention. It also signals you to keep doing the activity again and again. The human mind is wired by design to respond to rewards.
A recent article from the Harvard Business Review underscores the importance of small wins in the progress principle: Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions at work, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. Whether someone is trying to solve a major scientific mystery or produce a high-quality product or service, everyday progress—even a small win—can make all the difference in how people feel and perform.
The science is clear: We do better when we celebrate achievements of all kinds.
This week, lead with intention and be mindful of your environment. Look for the “small” things that deserve some attention. Celebrate them for yourself and find ways to recognize them in others, too.
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Happy coaching, folks!
MJ Jennings | High Performance Coach