You might be angling for a promotion this year. Or, awaiting news of a big, fat raise (champagne’s on ice!). Perhaps you’re working toward an end-of-year bonus. Or, maybe you’re really wishing the CEO will grant your request to attend that conference alongside her.
These are all terrific endeavors, and you should work toward big goals, but it’s not just the major work wins you should be pumped about—the many small milestones that occur in a given week or month are worth celebrating, too. These are also the things that can help lead to the bigger stuff.
So, don’t wait for your title to change or for your boss to hand over a VIP account. Start recognizing the important work you’re doing every day.
Not sure where to start? Ahead, 12 career coaches on the little work wins that’re worth your attention.
1. Receiving Praise
When your client or colleague praises you for a job well done, it’s important to note. Save emails or jot down positive feedback said aloud. Use your list to reflect on in the future when it’s time to ask for a raise, or in your next interview when you’re asked about your strengths.
2. Meeting 30-Day Goals
At the beginning of each month or quarter, I like to suggest clients devise a mini-challenge for themselves. One that they can get enthusiastic about is a 30-day sprint to complete a stretch assignment, such as learning a new skill like coding, or growing their network by sending one cold email to a new contact. Time-bounding professional-development goals leverage the power of small wins by making them concrete and measurable, and they also make it natural to appreciate your progress and celebrate.
3. Speaking Up
Whether it’s to make a decision, ask a question, or contribute your area of knowledge to a conversation, speaking up is a valuable opportunity to be heard, and, as such, it should be recognized.
4. Being Asked for Advice
Did one of your colleagues specifically reach out for your take on something? They value your opinion! That’s a big deal, even though I get that it may not necessarily feel that way in the moment. Remind yourself that they chose you, which speaks volumes about how you’re viewed and how your contributions are impactful.
5. Getting Gratitude
Receiving positive feedback from clients or co-workers is always something to celebrate. When you get a thank you email, star it or label it so you can come back to it in a low moment and remember why you do what you do, even if the major accomplishment is one you’re still waiting for.
6. Demonstrating EQ
It’s a win any time you find a creative solution instead of giving in to a conflict with a co-worker. Arguing, butting heads, struggling with who gets the final say—these practices are pointless, not to mention energy-sucking. Pat yourself on the back when you reach for emotional intelligence as a response.
7. Hacking Productivity
Given how easy it is to get distracted and lose focus, if you discover a new productivity technique (no matter how small or seemingly insignificant) that results in increased concentration and self-discipline, it’s worth recording as a small win.
8. Being Assertive
Asserting yourself, especially when it’s not a muscle you normally flex, is absolutely a cause for celebration. I personally jot these moments into a journal when they happen so that I can see my progress, and, more often than not, I do it while treating myself to a cupcake. Forming new habits is hard enough—it makes sense to recognize achievements with a sweet, little reward.
9. Presenting to Others
Presenting to your team (even if it’s just a couple of people) can be nerve-wracking, especially if it’s your first time. But the feeling afterward is awesome! It’s like a giant weight lifted off your shoulders after all that planning, preparation, and, finally, execution.
10. Tackling a Tough Task
Crossing off a challenging or unpleasant item on your to-do list feels pretty spectacular. I learned a long time ago that if you tackle your most dreaded tasks before anything else, you’ll sail through the rest of the day.
11. Feeling Energized
Many report dreading going into work in the morning. All day they look forward to dashing out the door at 5 or 6 PM. Seriously, if this doesn’t describe you, it’s cause to rejoice. You spend 40 or more hours a week at work—relish it if you’re not miserable.
12. Helping Others
Did you support a colleague in getting her project off the ground? Did you provide some much-needed answers to a customer? What about contributing to the success of a larger project by giving your boss the requested data? When we step outside of ourselves and recognize how lending a hand can have a meaningful impact, we win.
What small milestones did you hit this week? Tweet me at stacespeaks—I want to celebrate with you! Use the hashtag #smallwins!