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Do You make Time to celebrate Your small Successes?

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small percentage of success is good

When setting out to achieve your goals, do you see success as black and white?


Do you remember to look for the shades of grey? Do you acknowledge milestone achievements or focus only on ultimate victory excluding all outcomes of actions that have helped you triumph?

The road to success is more often than not a mixed bag. There are the smooth stretches where one races through on roller skates. It also has the odd speed breaks and potholes. When one hits the latter two it is easy to get demoralized and drop the goal thinking that one cannot succeed.

That is the EXACT moment when one needs to analyse what went wrong or what steps are needed to get over the hurdle. One also needs to consider whether there has been a full or partial failure. I suggested a strategy for analyzing failure for ultimate success in my post Why Failure is Good.

Continuing along the lines of that post, I now suggest that we look closer at the smaller successes that we have along the way to maintain a positive attitude while we strive to achieve the coveted goal.

Nothing is ever a complete failure.  We have all faced setbacks for pet projects at some time or the other and if we really wanted ultimate success, did a course correct even if we did not realize what we were doing at the time.


Finding the small successes and dissolving setbacks


Most of us need a big victory to celebrate but a very small failure to get upset. We make it personal instead of thinking of it as a learning experience that will help us achieve a bigger goal ignoring all those pieces that we got right.

In the Karmic Ally Coaching Self-study course, Life Focus in 7 Days, I write about getting back on track by refocusing after a setback. Instead of talking in terms of failure, I suggest viewing a setback as an event that happens in life and needs to be tackled.

Setbacks and difficulties occur all of the time – they are a natural activity of life. There are two ways of facing difficulties.  You either change or alter the difficulty or you can alter yourself to be able to deal with it.

Deal with difficulties correctly and it will enhance your confidence, deal with them incorrectly and they can do some serious damage to your self- worth. In other words, a lot depends upon your response, actions and more importantly, what are you saying to yourself?

You have a choice about your thoughts. If you go for the GIGO approach, your answers would be likewise – Garbage In and Garbage Out.

For example, you’ve finally received an invitation for a job interview with a company that would not only add value to your Resume but also matches your expectations of a desired job’s compensation and career value. You make it to the final selection and then lose out to a stronger candidate.

The recruiter tells you that the client chose the other candidate with more experience in a particular area which you knew have would have required a steep learning curve on your part before permitting your resume to be sent to the prospective employer.

It is natural to be disappointed as the runner up. How do you react? If you start thinking

“Why does this always happen to me? I never have any luck”

Your mind will probably come out with:

“Because you are useless and don’t deserve to get a good job”

Or something equally unkind.

Sounds familiar?

Instead, if you ask yourself a positive empowering question like:

“What did I learn from this setback for future reference so that I don’t make the same mistake?”

Your mind will kick into solution mode and help.


Failure is not always a mistake


9 things to think about when setbacks occur:


  • Acknowledge that it has happened. Don’t hide from it. These things happen. So what?
  • Acknowledge that setbacks occur to everyone & you are not being singled out.
  • View them as a challenge to overcome rather than an issue or problem
  • What positive empowering questions can you ask yourself?
  • What is good about this situation?
  • How can I make the most of this situation?
  • What can I learn from it?
  • What are the facts about this problem?
  • How can I make it a successful outcome?


If you do this exercise honestly and with an open mind, you will discover that there are small things that you did succeed with and even if you missed the mark, there is enough to feel good about, celebrate it and then get on with fixing what needs to be fixed. You now have a solution blueprint that you know is doable.

You might also discover that the goal that you were running after is not aligned with the rest of your life and perhaps there is a better goal that is aligned with the authentic you.

Coming back to the example, if I were in that situation, I would celebrate the fact that even though I knew I had a weakness, my resume got me the job interview invite. The prospective employer saw something in my profile.

I’d consider whether I need to invest time to learn any new skills and also whether I could do a better interview in future. I’d also be more careful when allowing my resume to be sent for a position by checking how strong a match there is between the job and my profile.

In other words, I’d use the experience to create a blueprint for future success like I did in my story Mission Driving License.

Positive thinking and using different tactics will aid you to achieve your end goal and I discuss the same in my book Goal Achievement Simplified.


Think positive for goal achievement


Karmic Ally’s Life Coaching Tip:
Reframe your thoughts to find nuggets of success


The next time you are facing a situation where you think you have failed, give yourself this gift.

Try reframing your thoughts and think of the little things that went well. Don’t dismiss the learning. Reframe your thoughts on failure to think of it as feedback on how not to do things. Next time you will get it 100% right. If something did go right, then celebrate it as an achievement.

Instead of surfing the wave of failure, step back and think, “Okay, this did not work out well but at least I did xyz task well”.  And celebrate.

Consider a person who is taking steps to lose weight hits a plateau. There is no weight loss in 3 days. Instead of quitting the diet, a better approach would be to consider and celebrate:

  1. Having maintained that weight for the days that they have instead of piling on more
  2. Having kept up with their exercise regime
  3. Having more energy for the things they love to do.

Celebrate the part that went well and keep happy.

Happy people are full of life and provide energy to others to go out and seek happiness themselves.

So this week, step out of misery over goals that are not completely achieved and find that teeny weenie success you did have and celebrate. Try it for size and see the difference it makes in getting back onto the highway of success.


Do you have a different way of motivating yourself when you are about to give up on a goal or hit a roadblock?

I’d love to read about it in the comments box below.


Changing the way we think or accepting that we need to change doesn’t happen overnight. Want to find out more about your change management style? Try this free quiz by filling up the form below. You’ll also receive my tips and resources to help you get ahead. Don’t worry, I don’t spam because professionals don’t do that.


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Update: This post was originally written in May 2012 and has been updated for more tips and resources to help the reader succeed in achieving the big win.




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20 Responses to “Do You make Time to celebrate Your small Successes?”

  1. This is an evergreen piece as all the information to help one understand a setback & regroup is invaluable. Love the graphics & pinned a few. In my own experience when disappointed by business effort, I notice I feel depressed for a day or 2 & then rally with, what other actions can I take. So happy I’m self driven.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thanks for pinning and sharing my post forward, Roslyn. Different people react to failure in different ways, especially if they have put their heart and soul into the failed effort. More often than not, it is not so much our effort to succeed but factors that are outside of our control or a missing piece of information that lets us down. When the mind is moping, it is actually going over the entire process that we used to figure out what went wrong. The key is whether we rally round again with a new sense of purpose or let go and accept failure when a little tweak to the effort can convert to success. May you always stay self-driven!

  2. Having always been an all or nothing kind of person, I have had my challenges celebrating the small victories or successes. My eye is often on the end prize and as I am learning, the lessons and the experience is in the process not in the goal. It is an ongoing practice for me, to be happy with small things as flying ahead, is so very easy and natural for me to do. Keeping my feet on the ground and learning to appreciate taking one step and then another, is one of my biggest life lessons. Thanks for the reminder, Vatsala! The little successes add up to become hopefully one big success.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      The small wins do add up to the one big success, Beverley. You have already mastered the art of self-awareness and staying grounded while experiencing the process towards successful goal achievement. That makes you unstoppable!

  3. Ian Campbell says:

    Excellent post Vatsala. Very often we tend to focus on the negatives and not see the smaller success’s we achieve. It is easy to get lost in the overall picture rather than see and appreciate the smaller steps we have done successfully. Failure is only that if you do not learn from it and adapt to it. Many people give up when the success they have aimed for is just over the next hill. Cheers, Ian.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thank you Ian. When the goal is one that is dear to our hearts, we tend to get lost in the big picture rather than appreciating the byte size steps that we have taken successfully and which deserve to be acknowledged. A drop of water at a time creates the bigger pond or ocean!

      I’ve retrained my mind to find some positive aspect or small win even when the project at hand looks like a failure and it helps to motivate me to fix what needs fixing and move towards the big goal without giving up. Thanks for visiting again!

  4. Robin Strohmaier says:

    Excellent post, Vatsala, and something we all need to remember. Celebrating our small successes may be a challenge for some, but it is an important step. I love your tip to reframe your thoughts to find nuggets of success. Reframing is such an important part of learning to be able to look at a situation and finding those golden nuggets.

    I appreciate you sharing this with us. Have a wonderful week ahead!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thank you Robin. I wish you a great week ahead too! Reframing one’s thoughts has an added advantage as it helps us to build our Gratitude muscle which is important both for our well being as well as for creating the right mindset to attract more of the good things and events in our life.

  5. Deb Nelson says:

    Thank goodness for small successes. When the big success doesn’t happen, those small victories save the day. Great post to encourage moving forward, finding the best in our work, while at the same time making adjustments for the next task we’ll face. Love the post, Vatsala.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I agree with you, Deb, about small wins saving the day. Nothing is ever a complete failure unless we wish to label it so. Quite often, we are so passionate about the goal that even the smallest setback can get us off track. Reframing our thoughts and analyzing the activity helps to discover the area that needs more attention for timely intervention.

  6. Lori Ann says:

    I find that talking to my husband when my motivation flags helps me continue on. We celebrate the little victories as well as the big ones, and try not to let the bumps stop us. I recently posted into my online classes about the five-second rule. In the first episode of “Lost” Jack tells how he faced his fear – he let it in for a count of five, then he moved on. He discovered that five seconds was enough to disarm it. I have used this over the last few days and it has worked for me.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      5 seconds helps to get back perspective on the issue at hand Lori Ann. Having a friend or a spouse who is close to the situation but not fully involved allows them to understand the underlying dynamics, where you are coming from and offering their perspective in a way that you can listen and regroup to go forward with your goal. A Coach or Mentor does something similar but having a spouse who appreciates your passion for your goal and cheers you to success is priceless.

  7. Kaz says:

    Great blog Vatsala! First, I loved the title. “Celebrate small successes” that’s I think super important! We need a “winning habit” to win, which comes from celebrating small successes. And as you said, failure doesn’t exist until you give up. Learn from it and move forward! Thanks for the great reminders. I truly enjoyed reading your blog 🙂

    • Karmic Ally says:

      You’ve made my day, Kaz! You are absolutely right about failure. That only happens when we give up. Have a great weekend.

  8. Liz says:

    I used to be one of those people that thought if I didn’t get whatever I wanted, I was a complete failure. Now I look at my failure in three different ways: 1) it was a rehearsal for something better in the future, 2) it is not where I am supposed to be right now, and 3) if the desire is still there, there is a different way to succeed and I just need to keep looking for it. Thank you for the insight, Vatsala. Sometimes it is hard to remain positive when the outcome it not what one wants. 🙂

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I love your 3 prong approach to seeing failure as a stepping stone to future success, Liz. It is hard to remain positive when the outcome is not what one wanted and that is when we need to take a step back and examine our goal in light of the big picture and other areas of our life. Somewhat like the Moving Cheese example in my previous post.

  9. Fantastic post Vatsala!

    Having setbacks are not fun, but you have listed some awesome ways to deal with those 🙂 Thank you!

    I love that you mentioned “give yourself a gift” what a great idea 🙂 I always celebrate my “small” successes and that is good, because it helps me to focus 🙂

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thank you Joan. Celebrating even the smallest of the small successes does help us to keep our focus and maintain objectivity that the entire project is not a dismal failure but just needs a bit of tweaking for super success.

  10. Hi Vatsala,
    This is a not only a great post and reminder for celebrating small successes, it is very timely for me. I was just talking to a friend who is also a life coach for coaches – she told me to set my goals based on the visualization of my succeeding. She said to set the goals based on how I would feel when I succeed at the big goal – so that the big goal is set not in the mindset of now – it’s set in the end result feeling. I thought that was very interesting way to approach goal setting. Reframing failures is very important and celebrating any success, there are no small successes is important too to keep moving forward. Thank you!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Hi Tamara,

      Thank you for the compliment. Just knowing that the post is timely for you has made my day and this is a win that I will be celebrating. It normally isn’t the destination that we wish to reach but the journey which is the real experience and each event, big or small is worthy of celebrating. That way, when we have a setback, we can still motivate ourselves to move forward. I love the way your friend described goal setting. At the end of the day, how we feel or want to feel will keep us going.

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Meet your coach

I believe the world would be a better place if high achieving professionals accepted setbacks and challenges to their careers as Wake Up Calls to embark on a Journey where their empowered course correcting actions create a New World Order that encompasses achieving their career aspirations & potential with authentic life balance.

I work with driven, passionate, talented and ambitious professionals who’ve hit a speed breaker in their business or career create their desired breakthrough reclaiming control of their situation with customized strategies and tactics that deliver results.

When my clients first reach out to me, they are not in a very happy place, needing clarity about themselves, their desires, chosen vocation and what will give them peace of mind. They are drawn to me for the very reasons that I highlight in Who Is Karmic Ally Coaching.

Their professional problems are playing havoc with other areas of their life. They know they need to take radical steps to change the status quo but they also know they need support and accountability to get them their desired result.

I really get it, because I’ve experienced that dark night of the Soul. I know firsthand the outcome of getting lost in my work rationalizing decisions that were detrimental to other aspects of my life.

I’ve struggled with and won battles of stress management, corporate politics, life balance and career decisions to emerge in a place where I can confidently say that I live my desired life according to my personal Manifesto and have created a business that provides me with a platform for my desired lifestyle and self-expression for myself. I want that for you too!

I adhere to the Certified Coaches Alliance Code of Ethics and Standards. A copy is available on request.
1st place BCB 2012
Email: Vatsala(at)karmicallycoaching(dot)com Phone:91 9818517664
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