I was recently talking with my executive coach (yes, coaches have coaches) and she asked me what I had done to celebrate the recent launch of my new business. Her question caught me by surprise. Not because I didn’t do anything to celebrate, but because I couldn’t remember exactly what I had done to mark the launch. I stumbled over my words and said something like, “I think I went to dinner or something”. She inquired further, “Who did you go to dinner with”? I said, “I think I went out at some point with my mother and my son” … “oh, and I think I had some prosecco the night of the official launch”. It was a fairly pathetic response for what was arguably the most exciting thing that had happened in my career.
My coach then looked me right in the eye and said, “You need to plan something. Something specific. Something to mark the occasion in a special way.” It seemed unnecessary to me at first. The launch was over, and the moment had passed. But her comment kept nagging at me. The next day she followed up with an email (she’s wonderfully relentless like that) so I told her I was going to get a massage. And because I am a rule follower (and because I knew I would have to describe my celebration the next time we had a session), I booked a massage that I would have a few days later.
The day came and I figured, if I was going to do this, I would do it right. I arrived about 45 minutes early at the spa. I ordered a glass of prosecco at the front desk (are you sensing a prosecco theme here?) and proceeded to make my way to the locker room. I put on the obligatory spa robe, grabbed the bestseller that had been gathering dust on my nightstand, and made my way to the “relaxation room”. I was met with one of the employees who had a cold glass of prosecco in her hand just for me. I sat down on the chaise (Do you sit on a chaise? Or lounge?) and took a deep breath. I took a sip of the chilled prosecco and silently made a toast to…. myself. For a few minutes I thought about the journey that I took to get here, all the hard work, all the small wins, the long nights at my laptop, etc. And then I opened my book and read, uninterrupted, for 30 minutes. Having the actual massage was the icing on the cake.
The lesson? Don’t just celebrate your wins, commemorate them. What is the difference, you ask? The “official” definition of commemorate is to “celebrate an event, a person, or a situation by doing or building something; to mark by some ceremony or observation”. By commemorating a personal success, you are allowing time and space to fully acknowledge and absorb the event. It is an intentional act of respect and care for yourself. How many times do we move on to the next “to-do” on our list without taking a minute to recognize how much we have accomplished? And when we regularly acknowledge our personal wins, we build confidence and self-esteem. Not to mention our gratitude increases because we are more aware of the positive events in our lives. And we all know practicing gratitude increases happiness. So, the next time you have something great happen in your life – big or small – take some time to relish, appreciate, and commemorate your success.
Shannon Clark Johnston