I was about a year into my head first journey as a solo female non-technical tech founder. I realized that I noticed I hadn’t smiled, let alone laughed, for at least two months.
It was such an epiphany that I actually had to verbalize it to my spouse. I am normally the quippy, sarcastic person that loves ironic humour and witty repartee. The notion that I had to constructively verbalize it really resonated in my thought processes (my emotional responses had been on hiatus as the ebbs and flows of startups as a lone founder had quickly turned off my already subpar emotional reactivity).
Regardless, it hit me. Why am I not laughing anymore? I am one to handle risks and change and actually am drawn to it. Why would being in this ideal state of entrepreneurship and creating something out of nothing somehow cause a fundamental part of my makeup to suddenly be gone?
I want to say that I found the answer and I turned it around to become the Robert Downey Jr. of sarcasm and re-ignited my passion for laughter, but this is not a story about that.
What came to me in my subconscious, which had taken a backseat to administrative objective tasks, is a small voice telling me to chronicle the Small Wins.
I am not speaking to a gratitude only journal. I absolutely and fundamentally use gratitude on a daily basis to keep perspective on life (read: ‘My leg hurts.’ ‘Well at least I have a leg to feel pain with.’ Or a brain to register it for that matter, however I digress.).
What I am speaking of is a Small Wins Journal. Mine is a small Moleskin journal I keep with me. I can dedicate multiple articles to the benefits of keeping a physical journal on your person for all the random things that you may want it to capture, however that is for another article.
What are Small Wins?
Here are two real examples from my own:
1. Got up at 6 am
2. Had energy finally
3. Had gratitude over what [spouse] CZ is doing in house with responsibilities
4. Went to office
5. Took care of major items
6. Found supper recipe
1. Got out of bed
2. Honoured commitment to go to doctor appointment
3. Honoured commitment to meet T. for lunch. She forgot, so was cancelled.
4. Dressed in actual work clothes
5. Cleaned kitchen
6. Paid bill
7. Ran errands I needed to.
Okay, for a majority of you, this is a bullshit ‘so what’ article. That is the whole point. Small wins are for no one but you. They are not the full on gratitude statements that we can make ourselves feel even more guilty about if we complain about something. These are your own wins that bring you toward your own human goal of life.
Work isn’t a vacuum. Everything feeds each other. And if you can acknowledge and celebrate the fact that you got out of bed this morning, it means you are still moving towards the whole of what you want to be.
PS. If you do cite that one of your Small Wins is getting out of bed, this also speaks to where you are at mentally in the daily slog of moving a startup forward as a solo founder (hell, any founder when you’re in the trenches).
That ‘Getting out of Bed’ Small Win is the biggest success of the day.
We tend to focus on the end goals rather than the small and significant steps we take to get us to that goal.
This is why it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate small wins. The problem with not doing this is we end up diminishing our motivation and motivation is what keeps us on the right path
Appreciation can sometimes be played down in life and we tend to forget to appreciate what we’ve done and what we have. Appreciating our small wins and the small steps we take can be the difference between failing and succeeding. Lack of appreciation and gratefulness can lead us down the slippery slope of not being able to see the importance of our small successes. Celebrating the small stuff is us acknowledging that we are well on our way to achievement — in fact we are achieving all the time and it’s a myth that we are only successful once we’ve reached that elusive goal.
Jenny Marchall article on Lifehack.