When one decides to improve ones health, there can be this strong tendency to focus way too much on what you DIDN’T do or what DIDN’T change. I have been guilty of this myself. There are times when I have really beat myself up over not getting something ticked off my ‘to do’ list. Be it that I missed a meal or a training session. Or maybe I didn’t get in the hip stretches that I know help my lower back. Whatever it may be, for every one negative we focus on I can almost guarantee you that there are another half a dozen or so things that you DID do well.
Our biggest achievements are the sum of all our parts. Every little win, no matter how small, guides us closer to where we need to go, and it’s important to acknowledge them to keep high levels of motivation.
Big goals are great. There’s no way around it: when you tick off a BIG goal you’ve been working on for weeks, months or even years, that feeling of achievement is amazing.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that big wins are big for a reason. They don’t happen every day. If you’re constantly chasing defining outcomes or trying to land that big break, it’s easy to get discouraged along the way. This is because our minds are wired to focus on the bad stuff, rather than the good. When you are defining success only by the big wins, small setbacks can quickly ruin your day. They drain your energy, leave you feeling deflated, and increase your stress levels.
On the flip-side, the simple act of reframing your thinking can work wonders. By focusing on the little achievements you’ve made and acknowledging your successes – no matter in what form or scale – it can encourage better, continued habits, decrease stress, and boost your performance. Using myself as an example, if get all my workouts in for the week, I’m giving myself a massive high 5! Or if i get my food prepped for the next few days, that’s a pat on the back! We can’t keep overlooking the little things.
How to focus on small wins
It’s easy to say “focus on the small wins”. But in practice, it can be hard to know where to start – particularly if you’re facing a particularly tough period. If you need help reframing your thinking, these tips will help you zoom in on the little achievements.
Track your achievements, no matter how small
Keep a journal every day. Use it to record the things you feel good about throughout the day -no matter how small. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a career win. It can be a personal achievement such as taking time to exercise every day, or not hitting the snooze button for a second time in the morning.
Flip the self-talk
When we encounter setbacks, many of us instantly gravitate to our failures. We’re constantly telling ourselves that we’re not good enough, because we’re measuring ourselves by a grand standard. Instead of this negative self talk, try to give yourself inner compliments throughout the day. Stop and proactively acknowledge your successes by internally saying things like, “Hey, I handled that pretty well” or “productivity was through the roof today!” These mental high-fives build self-confidence and add up to help boost your mood.
Change your idea of a ‘win’
Winning doesn’t always mean monumental career victories. When you only think of a win as a huge victory, you’re likely to overlook everything else along the way. Stop and reflect about how you define a win. By defining the little wins, you’re more likely to acknowledge them and celebrate them.
So next time you find yourself giving yourself a hard time, stop, pause and think. Think of something else that you’re proud of that particular day, something you did well and then, give yourself a well deserved pat on the back!