Have you ever achieved an important goal or dream, yet quickly moved on to the next task? Or maybe you boldly took a risk, yet your performance didn’t meet your expectations or others? Or maybe the perfectionist in you felt the accomplishment wasn’t big enough or worthy of celebration? Do you generously celebrate your wins?
I thought I was someone who was good about celebrating successes. And, maybe you have too. But a few significant events opened my eyes to the importance of celebrating and the costs associated when accomplishments are minimized, criticized or glossed over. I invite you to explore the “celebration factor” in your life, as I share my own past experiences with you. It’s forever changed my relationship with celebration, and how I intend to consciously choose to honor the big and little achievements along life’s path.
A few years back, it was no secret that I’d been busily working on preparing my book for publication. While there are numerous tasks and milestones along the way, going to print is one of the biggies. December that year marked the first print run of 125 galley copies for book reviewers. While I consciously knew this was a great achievement, the event was sort of lost in the flurry of other activities. Instead of feeling elated and joyous, I have to admit my experience was more like a mini postpartum depression. I had a bodywork session, and didn’t think much of it.
About three weeks later, I uploaded the files for the first BIG print run. There wasn’t a parade or party. The files were simply uploaded. Mission accomplished. Yet, my task list seemed as overwhelming as ever. Once again, I felt my normal happy self uncontrollably nose-diving into droopiness. This postpartum-like depression seemed worse than before. It was awful! Conversations with other authors confirmed this was something they had experienced too. But, why? Would some conscious celebrating have helped?
A third event brought me even more clarity. I had attended a workshop. Since the next phase for me was about putting myself into the public eye, I decided to participate in the amateur talent show. This was definitely outside my comfort zone, as I don’t consider myself a performer AT ALL. But, I’ve admired women who dance freely in front of a group, and thought it could be fun. More importantly, I decided it would be a metaphor for authentically expressing myself in front of a group. I figured if I couldn’t put myself out there in front of a supportive, loving group, then I’d be in big trouble on my book tour.
So, I went for it. I gathered tips from the dance instructors who happened to be attending the event. There was virtually no time to practice. My legs were shaking terribly in anticipation of this event. I was nervous. I hate making a fool of myself. But, before I knew it – I DID my performance. They all clapped and loved it.
Did I celebrate? Heck no. I stood in the back of the room replaying the performance in my mind, my body still shaking a bit. The critic was active with judgments. I had moved too quickly. I had forgotten some of the tips, like breathing. Could everyone tell how nervous I was? As others congratulated me, I deflected their comments, minimizing their kind words. How many times have YOU deflected or minimized acknowledgment from others?
I explained to others that it wasn’t perfect. The truth is, there were parts of the performance that were fabulous, and I felt amazing and powerful at certain moments. Other parts of the performance were a tad awkward, and a tinge of nervousness shined through. Overall, it was pretty darn good, especially considering it was a first time experience. While everyone was focused on the overall performance, I was fixated on the imperfections. Performance aside, simply the courage to do it was worthy of celebration. How many times do you refrain from celebration when your desired outcome falls short of expectations?
I eventually got tired of pushing the accolades away, and knew it would be useful to break this nasty habit. This whole experience served as a metaphor in TWO big ways. First off, it’s not about doing it perfectly. It’s about doing my best, being my authentic myself, and enjoying the process. This is something I’d like to keep in mind, as I set out on my journey as a published author. No doubt I will have a few awkward steps in the eyes of the public. Perhaps you’ll join me in trading the aspiration of perfection for full self-expression and a joyful journey — in your own life?
Secondly, I realized that once again, I wasn’t letting the celebration in. FEELING the celebration is key. Positively anchoring an accomplishment conditions us to continually risk, express ourselves and achieve more. I have been working on this since then. And, taking in the celebration feels AMAZING. What is something that you need to celebrate in your life? I challenge you to go for it.
As things turned out, the book spine needed some width adjustments, last minute endorsements came in and we caught a few needed corrections. On Wednesday night, the final-final .pdf files for The Power of Inner Choice were uploaded to the printer. At last.
I am a good student, and so is my husband. And, the lessons were fresh. This was the landmark moment that wasn’t going to be brushed aside this time. I hypothesized that minimal celebration had contributed to the droopiness. We wanted to avoid the previous slump at all costs. So, Wednesday night became the time to celebrate.
How would you have celebrated?
Our last minute celebration consisted of fresh halibut, Gorgonzola Gnocchi from Trader Joe’s (it’s very yummy!), an exceptional bottle of wine – and one of our favorite dessert treats. But, it wasn’t the food, it was the ATTITUDE of celebration. Making the evening special just because we decided to. Most importantly, I took the celebration inside of me and FELT it. And, I’m happy to say — there was NO slump afterward. I could celebrate the book release!
Celebration is about honoring yourself. It refuels the fire. It soothes the soul. And, it FEELS GOOD! Without it, our efforts can take the wind out of our sails. Life is full of big and little opportunities to celebrate. Some would say that CELEBRATING and experiencing joy IS what life is all about. I’m beginning to believe that is simply the truth.
Are you CELEBRATING your life?
It’s not too late to start celebrating every step of YOUR journey. Celebrate with me. Celebrate with your loved ones. Celebrate with yourself. Just start celebrating.