The Empowering Effect of Journaling Small Wins

Written by on July 23, 2019 in Pathways, Self-Awareness
The Empowering Effect of Small Wins

There are those – and I’ll bet you know at least a one – who believe that bothering with small wins is beneath them. They only set big, audacious goals, and when they do, they make sure everyone in their world knows about it.

They are the ones who wave the banner: NEVER, EVER GIVE UP NO MATTER WHAT!

I get it. There is a certain thrill that comes with setting an impressive goal. It’s fun to talk about, easy to garner support (not to mention envy) and the very idea of being able to flaunt a major success can seriously boost motivation. 

At least in the beginning.

The reality is that “big” wins are rare, and making the journey to reach that lofty goal nearly always takes longer and is harder than expected.

When confronted with obstacles or slow progress, many will choose to give up rather than embracing the value of small milestones for the growth they represent.   

In our quick-fix, do, be, and have it now world it’s easy to see the attraction to the all-or-nothing approach, but this type of thinking can also lead to some rather spectacular burn-outs.

Research has shown that focusing on achieving at least something worthwhile each day can boost your energy, and help you feel good about what you are doing.  

With consistent action, one small win leads to another, and another, slowly but surely building confidence and momentum along the way.

The Power of Journaling Small Wins

I’ve done a lot of mentoring and coaching over the years and one of my favorite strategies is to harness the power of small wins with a journal.

The goal is to write down at least one small win at the end of each day.

It could be making a difficult phone call, a decision you’ve been putting off, or saying ‘no’ when you’d normally say ‘yes’ (even when you didn’t want to).

This method works for anything you want to accomplish. I’ve seen amazing results with everything from changing unhealthy eating habits and overcoming fears to setting and managing personal boundaries.

The point is to create a consistent habit of achieving at least one small win each day in whatever area you desire to grow or change.

The great thing about keeping a small wins journal is that at any time you can go back over the previous days, weeks or months and see in black and white the progress you’ve made and how you’ve grown.

Taking Things to the Next Level

Another benefit of this process is the personal insight you can gain into what motivates you to do and be your best in life.

If there are days when you don’t make progress, rather than beat yourself up, take just a few minutes to think about what kept you from your daily win and what you can learn from the experience to help you have better results tomorrow.

While we all experience days where life gets in the way, you’ll find that more often than not lack of progress can be attributed to focus.

In other words, be intentional about what you want to accomplish rather than leaving it to chance.

And this is really important; never minimize your wins by comparing them to other people.  

A small win for an ultra-marathoner is naturally going to be different from someone who is lacing up a pair of tennis shoes for the first time.

Give yourself permission to be proud of the progress you’ve made, no matter how small or how slow, especially the progress that no one else has seen. Some people work decades to become an overnight success!

Closing Thoughts

We are encouraged to dream big dreams, and I’m all for that, but we need to accept the fact that the bigger the dream the more effort it will take to achieve.

Breaking big goals or dreams down into small steps is a good start, but turning those steps into small wins is what will give you the satisfaction of making progress and keep you going.

At the end of the day, that is the only thing that really matters.

Related reading:
Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here.

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