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Celebrating Minor Milestones

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

Small Wins

Keep track of all those little achievements that normally go unnoticed"


I have been considering this notion of celebrating small wins because just recently, an old back injury has flared up, forcing me to literally stop, lie down and rest, only able to hobble about.

Keeping psychologically positive can be a real battle when the journey ahead looks uncertain, challenging, and of unknown length.

Now, to be clear, this is not an opportunity to have a POM session (Poor Old Me) or pity party (although bucketfuls of sympathy are always very welcome!) but to illustrate how powerful celebrating small wins can be.

For several days pain has massively restricted what I have been able to do, often needing to lie down. During that time, I decided to see if I could manage typing with my laptop propped up so that I could do research and writing. It was! Small win number one! TICK!

As I completed an article I was writing, I stopped to mentally celebrate: yay, even though my back is preventing me from doing much, I have finished a piece of writing I can be proud of. Small win number two! TICK!

My next small goal was to get some pain relief (I had been putting it off because, for some unknown reason I always worry about making a fuss!). I have a very kind GP who was supportive and prescribed something to help. Another small win three - TICK!

The next step for me was to see if I could manage a few gentle physio exercises. Ouch, not easy, but definitely helpful. Just 5 minutes, a few times in the day. That made me feel as if I was doing something positive – small win four - TICK! This I rewarded with watching a TV drama.

With the edge taken off the worst of the pain, I wondered if it would be possible to travel to a local garden – I decided to give it a go. Although I wasn’t able to walk, I really enjoyed being in the café, having a beautiful view and watching the comings and goings of visitors. This felt like another small win five, which I celebrated with a perfect, warming Americano with almond milk - TICK!

Now I don’t know how long the journey to recovery will be, but I do know that this time, I am more motivated and in better spirits. Five small goals accomplished in a short time.

What does success or achievement look like to you?

Perhaps the accomplishment of a dream or goal that once felt unachievable, or at least, a very long journey. Maybe aspiring to a more senior role, studying for a degree, training for a marathon, or moving house...

Initially we might experience a surge of enthusiasm, but this can quickly wane if progress seems slow, or the going gets tough and it can be tempting to give up. Rob Smith believes that:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single win.”

Research has shown that when we take the time to stop and acknowledge small wins, it reinforces a sense of progress, which enables us to stay fully present and appreciate the moment. Acknowledgement of progress, no matter how small, leads to an increase in motivation which leads to bigger goals being accomplished, which leads to more progress.

“What motivates people on a day-to-day basis is the sense that they are making progress”

(Amabile and Steven)

“The progress loop – this reveals the potential in self-reinforcing benefits!"


Bassiri reminds us that we’ve gotten habituated to seeing major successes and instead of recognizing our small triumphs for what they are, we view them as failures.” We need to learn to verbalise and reward our small triumphs by affirming ourselves or treating ourselves to a little something.

Which minor milestone could you consider celebrating?

Which event(s) today could you choose to view as a small win or a possible breakthrough?

How could you reward yourself in some small way?

You might find that it totally changes your mindset.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this – please drop me a comment below, or email me on

UPDATE: Thankfully, since I wrote this blog, I have fully recovered, and am definitely celebrating that!

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