Reporter Leah Fessler had a story in this week’s New York Times about how important it is to recognize our small wins and routine accomplishments, rather than just wait to celebrate when we have major breakthroughs.
According to Teresa Amabile, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and co-author of The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, “huge achievements are much less likely than small wins, and if we wait for them to feel good about our work, most of us are going to suffer through vast deserts of tedium.”
This reality magnifies the importance of recognizing and briefly honoring the more mundane — but much more common — instances of progress among ourselves, our family, and our colleagues. What’s more, Ms. Amabile’s research suggests, is that small wins can have just as positive an influence on our sense of self-efficacy, happiness, and, ultimately, our productivity as enormous accomplishments do.
Here are some examples of small wins shared in the story:
- Ms. Amabile and her husband recently celebrated disinfecting a large load of groceries.
- Ms. Fessler cleared the screenshots and random documents from her computer desktop, changed her screen saver image, cleaned out her refrigerator, read one chapter of a book that has sat on her bedside table for a year, and brushed her pug.
Impressed? Probably not, but that’s the point. These small accomplishments are a sign that you are still being productive, even if it seems like you got nothing done that day. Realizing this can make us feel good and lead to even bigger accomplishments.
So after reading this, it made me reflect back on what I accomplished today.
- early morning workout
- answered several emails and blog comments
- read several blogs, offered comments on many
- vacuumed and cleaned my beloved Toyota Matrix
- moved all my desktop files to a folder so that I have a clean desktop
I’m guessing that some people may look at that list and say that they could do all of that in two hours. That is impressive but just as impressive is my ability to spread all of that over a 14-hour day.
Like the professor from Harvard says, you’ve got to celebrate those small wins…
*image from Entrepreneur