When was the last time that you celebrated an achievement, whether it be personal, or as part of a team? If you are like most people who tend to reserve celebrations for traditional occasions such as birthdays, weddings and Christmas’, understand that you are missing out on opportunities to experience more fun, fulfilment, and gratitude in your life. Every time that I finish a project, whether it is large, like a thesis, or small, like a presentation, I take some time out to reflect on and celebrate that accomplishment. Having channelled the extended effort, focus and dedication into something that means so much to me, it feels so good to finally bring to life what was once an idea seeking worldly expression.
Creating something new that is pregnant with possibilities, I want to not only express gratitude for the journey and contemplate what it has taught me, but also to continue harnessing the inspired energy which got me to that point. Finishing something that really means a lot to you can produce a hollow and depleted feeling. Languishing in that emptiness, purpose and direction can be lost as we ask ourselves the question, ‘where do I go from here?’ Not knowing the answer to that question, we do not move as we should, with the effect that the utility of our creation is greatly compromised.
Celebrating also the destination that we have reached, we remain driven to succeed, and with that momentum we can more easily transition into the next stage of our journey where another challenge awaits to be tackled. This lesson I learnt from Jack Welch, the retired CEO of General Electric, who made celebrating success a part of that company’s great culture. What Welch realised was that his people performed better when they were allowed to celebrate and be celebrated for their hard work that delivered positive results for the company. Far from advocating for a hedonistic approach to work, he was wise with his leadership style for rewarding his people with fun for their hard work and superior performance.
Fun should be an integral part of everything that we do, including work. In saying this, I know that there is a time to grind when things need to get done, but when we reach a goal, there should be scope to sit back and reflect on what the journey has meant. What good is accomplishment if we can’t bask in the joy of it, and enjoy the other fruits of giving ourselves fully to something that truly matters? A sad part of our culture is that we almost see it as slacking off, if we were to take the time out to celebrate our accomplishments. Always focused on the next thing to do, we remain unconscious participants in the societal rat race, with its endless demands that promise a life of stress and dissatisfaction.
How different the quality of our lives would be if we learned to love ourselves by honouring our efforts. Cultivating the space to see how we have touched the lives of others in a positive manner, we grow in our capacity to serve the world. In and of itself, celebrating doesn’t serve this purpose, but by engaging in it with a receptive spirit, we find greater fulfilment and harmony within ourselves, which not only enriches our experience, but the experience of others with whom we interact.
Without stopping at the appropriate time to pat ourselves on the back for what we have accomplished, our passion for life begins to dry up. Don’t let this happen to you. Fight against the force of the ego which says that you can’t celebrate until you have arrived on its terms. The day will not come when it allows you to step off that depleting treadmill, and what it wants for itself is immaterial to your happiness. The sooner you can appreciate this truth, the sooner that your spirit can meaningfully engage with life. Your being is cause enough for much celebration, as is your flourishing that will provide a potent example for succeeding generations to celebrate and draw inspiration from. I for one salute you, and I hope that you enjoy the time you take out to salute yourself.