Why You May Need a Celebration Box

 My celebration box, right next to the inspirational "work it" print

My celebration box, right next to the inspirational "work it" print

How many great things have you done this week?

How many times did you give yourself a pat on the back? 

Did you answer, “I did Nothing! I didn’t finish my big project, I didn’t exercise, and I hardly had time to even rest and spend time with my loved ones! I didn’t DO anything but work, sleep, and eat!” 

And maybe that’s true- maybe you did get behind on your project, and you absolutely failed to get any physical activity. Maybe it’s not because you were doing more important things, just urgent things. As a coach, I help clients strategize their actions and outlook so they quit having “did nothing” weeks. But what I’m going to focus on today is the idea that even in a week like this, you DID some really fantastic things, and they deserve to be recognized.

Too often we focus on what we failed to do and gloss over all the little victories of the week. On a second pass, you may realize that you cooked 3 new healthy meals, caught up with an old friend, and had a great conversation with a new connection who you’re really happy you met. 

Let me tell you a personal story that you may relate to. Six months into my new business, I was packing my days full of activity. I have always been a hard worker, but since becoming an entrepreneur, I’ve been hustling. I don’t even know how many hours a week I devote to work related activity, and I’m not sure I want to know. I LOVE what I do, but it does take a lot of time and focus. Within a short time span, I listened to a podcast about burnout, I read a blog about work-life balance, and I heard a sermon on rest. Because I enjoy my career, and barely feel that it is “work”, I did not feel like burnout was approaching, but I knew that it was something I need to protect myself against. I realized that I had nearly become a hamster running on her wheel- keep going, keep doing, and keep looking ahead. 

If you have my book, “The Secret to Your Best Life in 10 Minutes a Day”, then you know that before bed, there is a prompt that asks for 3 great thing you are thankful for today. In that space, I often wrote small things I had accomplished, good meetings I had, or a particularly great audiobook I had listened to. This started getting my mind focused on all the good things that happened that day, even if they were seemingly insignificant. I started congratulating myself for doing the things I wanted to do and being the person I wanted to be. This felt surprisingly good! I realized that I had been withholding celebration from myself. I am quick to make a big deal out of the success of others, so why am I not showing the same kindness to myself? 

You may have heard me say that your thinking creates your feeling. We can feel the way we want to feel by thinking certain thoughts. I want to feel proud of myself for my hard work! I want to smile as I celebrate the good things in my life, even if I don’t tell another soul about them. I realized that I could do this easily by creating an opportunity for self-love and keep myself emotionally strong long-term. 

This is where the celebration box came in. During the time I began to write little successes in my daily journal, I finished up a box of Yogi brand tea. As I was collapsing the box to recycle it, I noticed that the inside of the box had an ornate, luxurious, Indian pattern on it! I bent all the edges in the opposite direction and with two pieces of invisible tape, I made an inside-out tea box into a paper cube that was beautiful to look at. Now, every time I do something worthy of celebration, I write it on a small piece of paper and slide it into the box like a piggy bank of valuable memories. 

Now, just in case you are thinking about pride and how unvirtuous this seems, let me explain. I am not a person who struggles with pride in the way that I gloat over my accomplishments. I was ignoring all the positive actions, blessings, and serendipitous occasions in my life, which is just plain sad. I am a very positive person, and this is how I can keep that up. I don’t write my celebrations thinking, “I am the greatest!” I write them with a posture in my heart of gratitude to God that I am able to co-create these good things, maybe help others in the process, and remind myself of the value of all the action I have been taking. 

So, have you been celebrating your actions, big or small? Let me tell you, self-congratulation feels pretty great. Here are a few examples of things I have written, maybe these are things you have done and have never acknowledged yourself for doing them:

Finished “The Power of Now” (a book I had been meaning to read)
Worked out 5x this week (and now it’s become a habit, but would it have if I never celebrated how hard it was in the beginning?)
Cleaned out my whole closet
Led a workshop with some great people
Sorted my big desk pile
First session with the coolest new client! 
Cooked for myself every meal and snack this week (and saved $$)
Studied for 8 hours this weekend! 

See, both the big things and the little things are worth acknowledging, because life and growth are made up of them. Maybe it’s time to start your own celebration box. Make it work for you. Maybe a celebration word document or even a note on your phone will be better for you. There is a lot you can do with this. Every month, I dump all the pieces of paper out and read them. What a mood booster! I even have made a commitment to myself that when I reach a certain number of slips of paper, I am going to reward myself with this particularly fabulous leather tote that I have been eyeing for over a year. It’s not that I feel like I have to “earn it”, but I want to link my positive actions to my new bag. Every time I look at it, I will remember that I’m pretty awesome at turning dreams into reality.  I’m not waiting to hear it from someone else, I’m taking charge of my own feelings and I’m creating the thoughts, and in turn, the life I want. 

Are you going to start a celebration box? Let me know what you think!