(Originally Published in The Huffington Post)
Do you ever get the feeling that life is just one big hamster wheel of goals and to do lists?
You throw yourself into a project, promising to reward yourself when you're done -- long nap! short trip! endless bath! -- and, instead, immediately dive into the next one?
When was the last time you stopped and actually celebrated something you created or accomplished?
I used to trudge through life on an ever-increasing mission to get sh*t done. I'd spend months putting my heart and soul into getting a project completed or reaching a specific goal, only to get there, feel a momentary blip of fulfillment -- and be on to the next thing. Don't get me wrong -- like many of you, I love being productive. I love to create. But I was finding myself feeling less and less inspired and more and more unhealthy, exhausted and unfulfilled.
So I asked myself: If I want the process of creating and making and doing to feel energizing and inspiring -- if I want the journey to really be the destination -- what am I missing? What do I need?
And through some serious soul searching, this is what I found: I wasn't ever taking the time to acknowledge what I had just accomplished. I wasn't celebrating. And by not celebrating, I realized I was not only missing out on rewarding myself for my hard work, I was also missing out on an important opportunity to reflect and recharge my creative battery which, if you're like me, is really the fuel that keeps you going.
So, every week, I started taking a little time to intentionally celebrate myself. And not just the big stuff! I celebrated anything that made me proud and gave me that little zing of satisfaction: zipping up the skinny jeans, getting healthy meals on the table five nights in a row, hitting publish on a vulnerable blog post -- all grounds for celebration.
And so Celebration Sundays were born. Every Sunday I take a few minutes to look back over my week and write down all the things I'm celebrating. Then I spend a little time journalling about what I learned from these experiences, how I have changed as a result and how I feel going forward.
This simple practice has had a major impact on my life. I'm more productive and clear, I'm less stressed and I'm more confident than I've ever been.
If you need a reason (or five) to celebrate YOU, read on:
Celebrations Give Meaning -- There's a reason that traditional cultures have so many rituals and ceremonies -- it's because they mark life's passages and give it meaning. We have stripped away many of these celebrations from our bigger, better, faster lives and it's left a big empty hole where meaning used to live. Celebrating ourselves reminds us that our efforts matter; that what we do counts.
Celebrating Reminds Us To Enjoy The Journey -- We are so goal focused, so worried about the outcome, that we forget to enjoy the journey. When we stop and acknowledge the steps we have taken along the way, we take the focus away from the outcome and put it back on the doing. It makes us more likely to enjoy our work -- not to mention helping to protect us from the disappointment we might feel if we don't reach our goal or get our intended result.
Celebration Fills Our Need for Approval -- There is a reason we get so focused on the result and that's because having a final product is the best way to get a little approval -- a pat on the back, a little praise, a "good job" thrown our way. As humans we have a basic need for approval: it's built into our wiring, we want to be recognized for our work. But the truth is that external validation is fleeting and rarely honours us properly anyway. Celebrating ourselves fills this need from the inside, where it really counts.
Celebrating Yourself is Good for the Bottom Line -- I work with entrepreneurs, many of whom undervalue their services, because at the end of the day they haven't learned to value themselves. When you celebrate intentionally, taking the time to recognize your growth and expansion, you learn to claim your value. It increases your confidence, your sense of self worth -- it establishes a template for success and helps you see just how powerful and productive you really are. Once you learn to own your value you feel confident in asking for that raise or, in the case of my clients, increasing your rates, because you know your work is worth it.
Celebrating Regularly Increases Your Capacity for Joy -- We spend an awful lot of time beating ourselves up for things we should have done or could have done better -- and every time we do we are training our brains to go looking for the bad stuff. But when we take time to regularly celebrate ourselves, we teach our brains to be on the lookout for where we have done things right. It keeps us focused on the positive parts of life and because what we focus on expands, it starts to enhance our sense of happiness and rightness with the world.
"The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate." -- Oprah Winfrey
So go ahead, celebrate yourself!