Why You Should Always Acknowledge Achievements

Written by on June 17, 2014 in Accountability, Self-Awareness

Acknowledge AchievementsWas yesterday a good day? Did you finish a tough project, learn something new or complete a small but important step toward achieving a much bigger goal?

More importantly, did you take the time to recognize your achievements, even if you did nothing more than throw your arms up and do a little victory dance?

Or did you simply move on to the next task, project or assignment without giving your success another thought?

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. ~Benjamin Franklin

You’ve surely heard it before, celebrating even small successes will help to keep you motivated and energized. Not everyone agrees with this strategy of course. There are those who will argue that successfully completing a task should itself be the reward, and others will remind you it is more important to be humble and focus on learning from your failures than celebrating your wins.

Like all well-worn advice, there’s a measure of truth to each of these viewpoints, but regardless of whether you are a fan of “celebrations” or not, what I’d like you to consider today is that there is a significant difference between shouting your success to the world, and giving yourself permission to feel joy and satisfaction; to acknowledge the measure of dedication and courage – no matter how small – it took to achieve your goal.

The Long Term Benefits of Acknowledging Achievements

Acknowledging your achievements, even in a small way, increases positive emotions such as self-respect, happiness, and confidence. This is a very good thing in terms of your personal growth, but what you may not be aware of is that there is a growing body of research that associates cultivating positive emotions on a regular basis with psychological well-being, resilience and living longer.

Of course, achievements come in all shapes and sizes and while they are all worth acknowledging, some will be more meaningful to you than others. I’d like to suggest that you find ways to create memories around your most important successes, then in the future if you should have moments of self-doubt or find yourself facing a particularly difficult obstacle you will have some tangible reinforcement of what you can do when you set your mind to it and how far you’ve already come.

There are many ways you can record your achievements, for example if you keep a task list consider using it as an ongoing record. My task list is actually a spreadsheet for the year broken down by week and month, so I have a record of everything I accomplished in January, February, etc. It’s a great way to see how far you’ve come and to help plan for the future.

Here are 3 other ideas:
  • Create an achievement journal. Note each success, no matter how small and give yourself gold stars. As you continue to grow and accomplish more and more goals, you’ll be able to periodically look back through your journal to reflect on all that you’ve learned and accomplished.
  • Buy a special piece of jewelry when you hit a BIG goal and every time you wear it you’ll be reminded of your success. Charm bracelets are uniquely suited to this type of reward because you can buy a charm symbolizing each significant achievement.
  • Begin a collection – be it stamps, thimbles, spoons, dolls, action figures, sports memorabilia etc. Each time you achieve a goal allow yourself to buy another item for your collection.

As valuable as the long-term benefits are to acknowledging your achievements, there’s no question that cultivating more positive emotions will benefit you each and every day.

Rather than dwelling on what you didn’t achieve, why not recognize the value of all that you did accomplish, and then reward yourself with a few kind words or a little pampering. In the end, it’s not the size of the celebration that counts, what’s important is acknowledging that you are growing and creating your best life.

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita 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.

 

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. S says:

    Great article – thank you! My problem has always been that I downplay my achievements in an attempt to be humble and develop an ego. At what point does recognising your own achievements turn into inflating your ego?

    • So glad you found value in the article! Re your question – generally that line is when acknowledging your achievements goes from giving yourself permission to feel good about your growth to shouting your wins to the world. Even then there will be times when it is perfectly appropriate to share achievements to say advance your career. For example I occasionally mentor first time authors who really hate having to promote themselves and their work. We get around that ‘ego’ thing by focus on the work and the story rather than the person. Hope that helps.

  2. I randomly came to this blog-post after a google search about ‘approving of one’s self’ I went and found a dusty old notebook out of the cupboard and have made that my ‘achievement book’ It wasn’t until I scrolled down that I realized the author was Marquita Herald – whose book I’ve read. The world works in mysterious ways! Thank you for this post! Vanessa

  3. Rohit Gaikwad
    Twitter:
    says:

    Completely agree with the line “acknowledge the measure of dedication and courage – no matter how small – it took to achieve your goal” as it inspires you to do more good things. Acknowledgement and celebration of achievement keep our mind healthy and do not allow boringness to enter in our life. At the same it give us positive energy to achieve our goal.
    Rohit Gaikwad recently posted…How to use WhatsApp on the webMy Profile

  4. Nile
    Twitter:
    says:

    All achievements must be celebrated…. even if it’s a small self pat on the back. as an individual, we are so critical about oneself that the good is hidden under self-criticism. After a while, it becomes self-destructive.
    Nile recently posted…WordPress Support Tips – Wait, There’s Etiquette?My Profile

  5. Oh Marty, I just love all three of your ideas — journal, jewellery and collection!I know how important it is for me to write down my achievements, because when I don’t (far too often), I have no clue what I’ve done because of a strong tendency for everything to fade to grey in my mind. I never think I’ve accomplished anything, until I make myself look back over the day.

    You’ve inspired me again. Thank you!
    Willena Flewelling recently posted…Baby StepsMy Profile

  6. Karen Peltier
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hello Marquita.

    What a great topic! I agree with you that celebrating achievements and successes no matter how small or large is so important. It’s also something that can be easily overlooked unless you make a conscious effort to do so. So, I love your suggestions for keeping a journal or rewarding yourself with something, such as a piece of jewelry.

    I never thought of writing down my achievements, but I could see how powerful that would be. You’ve inspired me to give it a try! Also, I think I may start an “achievement night dinner” where my family members can share their successes with each other.
    Karen Peltier recently posted…Leafware Review and Product Giveaway: Eco-Friendly Dinnerware and FlatwareMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Welcome Karen! So glad you like the article and I love your idea about having the family share successes with each other! Thanks so much for contributing to the conversation – always appreciate. 🙂

  7. Hi Marquita. What an inspiring post! I don’t want to collect anything else (too much stuff already) and I don’t wear jewelry, but I love the idea of an achievement journal. That could be something for the night stand that I could write in just before bed. Thanks for a brilliant idea!

    All the best,
    Leslie

    • martyherald says:

      Glad you like the journal idea Leslie! As a coach I always made it a practice to give a “welcome” gift to new clients and it was an attractive achievement journal so they could keep track of what they learned and the small successes along the way. Then we would review it each time we met. Worked wonders and gave them something tangible to show for their progress. 🙂

  8. When you should be measuring yourself against your own goals, it is so important to embrace acknowledging your own achievements. To many people worry about what others are doing rather than their own progress. Great ideas, thanks for sharing.
    Andy Lockhart recently posted…5 Ways to Customize Your Content to Drive Customer ReferralsMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Welcome back Andy, and great point about the value of measuring progress against yourself rather than comparing your achievements to others. Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation!

  9. Marty, Wonderful post. So true. There is great power in acknowledging our accomplishments. For a long time I was listing everything I accomplished each day and sending them to an accoutability partner. It was great at the end of the year having a detailed accounting of my accomplishments. I also have an accountability partner to list my goals and review them with every 2 weeks. Both of these have been useful. At this point, however, I list certain goals consistently – my exercise and health goals accomplished – but when I run into problems I now recall all the times I have dealt with something similar and have overcome it. And when I do accomplish something I consider valuable, I do reward myself. Lately, however, my accomplishments seem to be lots of small tasks but the big goals are still eluding me. I am building resources and pieces to put into the funnel.
    Warmly, Dr. Erica
    Dr. Erica Goodstone recently posted…Relationship Success – Look Forward Not BackMy Profile

  10. Rachel Lavern
    Twitter:
    says:

    Marty,

    It is so easy to feel as though time just flew by. Sometimes I wonder where all the time went. But then I look back and realize all the great things I did, what I accomplished and how far my clients have come since the beginning of the year, and I realize I did a lot after all.
    So I usually stop to celebrate my achievements. If we do not, business (and life) can become really hard. I encourage others to make note of everything you have accomplished and take some time to celebrate.
    Rachel Lavern recently posted…How Thoughts Can Sabotage Your BusinessMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Welcome back Rachel and thanks for sharing your thoughts on acknowledging achievements. I know you’re expertise is training entrepreneurs so I’m not surprised you advocate this approach, I’m just glad you include yourself as well. 🙂

  11. donna merrill
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Marquita!

    I’m a great fan on this subject! It comes down to positive reinforcement. When training my dog, any small success reaps a reward, so why not me?

    Every time I do even one little task to achieve one tiny step to a goal, I do give myself a treat. It could be just about anything out of the ordinary. It gives me the incentive to keep going on.

    When I achieve a big task, that’s when I go out shopping lol. I like to purchase something “pretty” that I don’t necessarily need.

    This stuff works! I am happy that you wrote about it because we must celebrate every achievement we make no matter how small. It is the road to success to any goal.

    -Donna
    donna merrill recently posted…4 Essential Steps Of Affiliate BloggingMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      I’m not at all surprised to see that you’re a fan of acknowledging achievements Donna because I can well imagine this is one of the reasons you’re such a great trainer! Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation – always appreciated. 🙂

  12. Dave
    Twitter:
    says:

    I don’t take compliments well, either from an external source, or from myself. I tend to phish them away with the flick of a wrist. It’s what I should have accomplished anyway, I tell myself.

    And I suppose I was alright with this in some sort of warped self-centered way. I wasn’t alright with this, however, when I saw that behavior becoming mainstream for my eleven year old son. Talk about a wake up call.

    I have tried to change my attitude on this front. Albeit somewhat subdued, I allow myself to feel pride for accomplishments, however small or seemingly insignificant.

    I finally began to cultivate an atmosphere of writing every day. And for the past nine days, I have done so. Every time that I open up my Google Docs folder, I can see each day’s writing entry on a variety of topics staring back at me. And it is extremely gratifying to see my progress, and I do feel a sense of pride for staying true to myself.

    And the ironic thing is that allowing yourself to feel and express these emotions propels you forward to reach, plan, and accomplish so much more, sort of like a shot of adrenaline fuel for your soul 😉

    Thanks, as always, Marty. Great insights yet again 🙂
    Dave recently posted…Looking backMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Yep, you and I have a lot in common Dave! This one time I had to accept an award on stage at a convention in front of hundreds of people – music, roses, blah, blah. From the effort I put into trying to get out that that event you would have thought I was walking the green mile to my own execution! I’m still not good with public displays, but I have gotten better about not deflecting compliments (Thank you by the way!) and low key recognition, and ironically keeping track of accomplishments has helped me to have a greater appreciation for my efforts to grow. It’s a process 🙂

  13. Marquita,

    This was a very informative article. I also believe that there is an association between positive emotions and our well-being. For me I notice that when I speak and think positively it actually makes me feel ore alive and puts an extra bounce in my step – as well as makes me happier emotionally.

    In regards to celebrating our achievements I believe it is important that we do so. You have outlined 3 very easy to follow ways we can do so. I like the idea of creating good memories based on our achievements so we do have a bad or feel we have underachieved, we can reach into our memory bank and pull out some sunshine 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
    Nathaniel Kidd recently posted…Save Money on Holiday Road TripsMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Hi Nathaniel, you are of course correct about the power of positive emotions. In fact a lot has been written about that very subject recently and interestingly enough my new book that’s scheduled to be published next month is about realistic optimism. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  14. Sebastian Aiden Daniels
    Twitter:
    says:

    Interesting idea. I have never heard of the idea of an achievement journal. I might have to start doing that along with my gratitude lists. I also like the idea of buying something small each time you make an achievement. Positive reinforcement is so important : D. Thanks for the share.
    Sebastian Aiden Daniels recently posted…9 Life Lessons to Take Away from the Game of Thrones Season 4 FinaleMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      I used achievement journals when I was coaching Sebastian. Many of my clients were women who had little business experience, and often their motivation was to earn enough to stay home with their children. The problem was they had so little confidence it was difficult for them to do what they needed to to build their client base. So I began giving each new client a journal and having the keep track of everything they learned, each time the mustered to talk to a customer, etc. Then when we’d meet again I’d review their journal and make a big deal out of what they’d accomplished. Over time they had a nice resource to reference should they ever find themselves in a slump or just feeling a bit down. 🙂

  15. I.B. Nosey
    Twitter:
    says:

    This was so encouraging, Marquita! Thank you! I’ve actually never considered rewarding myself about my accomplishments because, yes, I considered it vain to do so. And if I accomplished something, I believed that meant that someone else hadn’t. So there was a bit of guilt. So when I finish dusting, I’m going to reward myself by kicking back in the recliner and doing NOTHING for a whole hour. 🙂 How’s that? LOL
    I.B. Nosey recently posted…Diane Bator Dreams It Up with I.B. NoseyMy Profile

  16. Hi Marquita,

    I have never recorded my achievements but they are very much a part of our development and growth, so they show themselves in the changes we have accomplished in life…like embracing positive emotions, becoming more responsible, patient and aware of the kind of people around us… to count the minutest ones!

    I have always bought jewellery for bigger achievements – like the birth of my child, her big and small achievements were rewarded in a similar manner and collecting memorabilia has been my passion. Another way of acknowledging our achievements is to click pictures and preserve them for yourself and posterity.

    I agree with you, our achievements need to be treasured to remember our happy moments. Thanks for sharing lovely thoughts.
    Balroop Singh recently posted…Father’s Day Reflections…Were You There?My Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Oh I would definitely agree the birth of your child would definitely be an occasion to celebrate and recognize in a memorable way. While tracking achievements wouldn’t be appropriate for everyone it is especially useful for those who are building something for the future. For example in the first 5 months of this year I’ve revamped my brand, launched a new website and publishing company, published a new book and am about to publish another new book next month. When you’re on an aggressive path of growth it’s very easy to fall into overwhelm. Tracking achievements is a strategy I’ve always encouraged entrepreneurs and new authors I’ve coached to help them as they grow their businesses and author platforms. Thanks for taking the time to share your beautiful insights, always appreciated!

  17. markus says:

    You are helping! Thank you. My spiritual journey have led me to you and your toughts . Maui girl sounds perfect .
    Peace and love.

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