Celebrating Before Reaching the Goal

As we approach the end of the year, I have been talking with my team about celebrating more. Their first response was, “Why, we haven’t hit our biggest goals yet?” I responded to them and said, “By celebrating now, we will ensure we hit our goals.” Everyone got quiet. I figured I had either said something very profound or completely ridiculous.

After a few moments of silence, my colleague said, “Yes, I absolutely understand why celebrating now will help us get to our goals, it will give us the focus and energy to get things over the finish line.” I responded with a big smile and said, “Yes, indeed.”

Let’s talk about why celebrating before you reach your goals is critical!

Most people celebrate once they’ve reached their goal - they feel proud, energized and happy that they hit the goal they set out for themselves. I would suggest this is important but, what might be more important, is to celebrate before you hit you and your team hit your goals.

You may be curious now why celebrating is so important. It may seem unnecessary and even flamboyant in the workplace. Yet, it is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself and your team.

A recent study conducted by Teresa Amabile at Harvard Business School found that when people track small successes, they become more confident and can apply that confidence towards future successes. When people accomplish goals (regardless of whether they are small or large), the “reward circuitry” in the brain is activated and we release dopamine - the feel good neurotransmitter. This results in a feeling of confidence, pride and achievement which energizes us and creates a positive vibe for the person and those around them.

So, when you as a leader begin to celebrate things surrounding the goal, you and your team both get energized and are able to continue the journey towards hitting the goal.

Here are a few things you can celebrate along the way:

  • Small wins towards the goal

  • How people are working together to reach the goal

  • New skills and capabilities that are being developed

  • The quality of thinking and action people are taking

As you begin to celebrate before reaching your goals, you will ensure the level of engagement required to accomplish what might seem impossible right now.


Weekly Uplevel Practice

After reading the list above, what else comes to mind for you and/or your team?

Take time this week to identify at least 25-50 things you can celebrate about your own work and/or the work of your team. It will take some effort to expand your perspective and see what is working and can be celebrated.

Leaders typically focus on what is not working and how to fix it so I imagine this will challenge you in the best possible way! Enjoy and let me know what you find.

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