“Celebrate every tiny victory.”
I recently posted a photo with these four little words on my Instagram – and a flurry of unexpected responses and messages followed.
Big deal right? Such simple and few words…yet they provoked so much emotion and a resounding chorus of “YES!” from other fellow creative entrepreneurs that made my heart leap. So it’s NOT just me that feels this way my mind whispered.
I realize my post communicated and uncovered no new or unknown sentiment – but why, as creatives, business owners, heck – even just people!, do we all have such difficulty acknowledging our achievements? No matter how small or big? Every success, every wedding you pulled off successfully, every failure you learned from, portrait session you nailed or painting you put the finishing touches on that had taken you months. They all deserve credit for being part of your growth and development and getting you from Point A to Point E…even if you’re not quite there yet.
I firmly believe that when we overlook the small victories in between our start and end points (if there are such things) we set ourselves up to be business owners motivated solely by success or the idea of BEING at Point E instead of what we can gain from the experience of getting there.
I’m the worst culprit of this way of thinking. I remember when I first started shooting weddings for a measly $600. Yup, my first wedding was $600 for a full day of shooting and delivering edited images (Hey, everyone has to start somewhere right?). At that point I NEVER thought I’d get to charging anything more than $2,000 for a wedding. The first time I booked a wedding above that “elusive” price point I experienced a little rush of excitement….then it was forgotten, not good enough and I was harping on my NEXT goal. Now that I book weddings well above that price point I hardly bat an eye when I really should be celebrating every booking on my journey to my next big goal.
Without acknowledgment, celebration and gratitude we dry up and lose our sense of joy. (I’m going to geek out here for a minute and ask if you knew that the Greek words for gratitude and joy share the same root word, “char”? Coincidence? I think not.)
So, we want to celebrate and be thankful for our successes but it’s just so darn hard. As St. Paul has written, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Or in other words, intention and desire are there but the actions won’t follow. Here are a few quick trips that I’ve found helpful in keeping my attitude focused on gratitude, and celebrating the points that are getting me from A to E (or wherever you’re going).
1. Keep an Honest Record
I’ve noticed a trend – in our personal and professional lives – that people have a tendency to misremember things. This human characteristic is even supported by historical accounts of the Israelites journey out of Egypt thousands of years ago. They went from being enslaved and mistreated to free people on their way to a new home but began to glamorize their life as slaves in Egypt when they faced uncertainty and unknowns. They wanted to go back because they misremembered the trauma of the entire situation and forgot the goodness and blessings that God had consistently showed them in leading them to a better life.
I read this story and think “Wow, how silly of them.” But if I look hard enough I see myself doing the exact same thing. This is why I think it’s such a good idea to write down all of your little victories and blessings – no matter how insignificant they may seem. Write them in a journal, on sticky notes and post them around your bathroom or keep them on little slips of paper in a jar. Just make sure you hang out to them and can revisit them to remind yourself of truth and where you’ve come from.
2. Share your Successes
Oof. This one is a doozy for me. I hate sharing successes to be honest. Sometimes I feel like speaking them out loud jinxes me, makes me sound like I’m bragging or that my successes just aren’t even worth sharing. Find your go-to people and encouragers and use them as your “good news” repository, and I guarantee their reactions will remind you that your little victories really do count for something and are worth celebrating.
Whenever I casually mention to my husband that I got another inquiry for an amazing wedding venue with a great couple, he gets giddy with excitement. He asks why I didn’t tell him sooner and I just shrug it off, but his kid-in-a-candy-store reaction reminds me that something as simple as a great inquiry is worth acknowledging and being thankful for.
3. Revisit your Why
Everyone has a “why” behind their business. It’s what keeps us committed to the grind, up late at night editing photos and enthusiastically moving forward with new ideas. Without the motivating “why” factor, we wouldn’t do what we do. So, what’s your why?
Have you thought about what your why is before? Do you KNOW what it is but have you lost sight of it? Having a solid vision behind your business and staying committed to that is crucial in cultivating a grateful heart that celebrates and appreciates the small victories – without giving up on the big ones. If your main “why” is to make a name for yourself in the industry or make boatloads of money doing what you love, it’s going to be a struggle to see the achievements along the way as anything besides insignificant and tiresome.
When single-minded success is the name of the game you lose out on appreciating what gets you there. One of my “whys” behind photographing weddings is to support and love on my couples as they prepare for marriage. So when a bride trusts me with her feelings and admits she’s nervous and leans on me for comfort before she walks down the aisle, I count that as a little victory and something worth celebrating.
I may not yet be at my overall financial and business goals (what I consider the BIG victories) for Camille Catherine Photography, but when I have “whys” of significance propelling me forward it doesn’t seem to be as urgent or matter as much. I don’t know where you are in business right now or what you’re striving for, but I know that everyone has something they’re ultimately after.
Don’t lose sight of that bold something that you’re working hard for – but don’t let it block your sight of the beautiful victories along the way. Entrepreneurship is much more enjoyable that way.