Small Wins Can Make A Big Difference

By Wesley Gallagher

Have you ever set a goal you didn’t reach? What about a New Year’s resolution you gave up on after just a few weeks or months? If so, you’re not alone. According to Inc., statistics show that most people have given up on their resolution by January 19.

Achieving goals is hard, and making lasting change is even harder. But there’s one approach that can go a long way toward reaching your goal: celebrating small wins along the way.

Why Small Wins Are Important

It’s great to have big goals and dreams in life, and working toward a goal is extremely rewarding. But big goals can feel daunting, whether it’s the lifelong journey of recovery, or another goal you’ve set for yourself.

Rather than having a big goal that feels far off, little milestones along the way can help keep you on track and motivated to carry on.

This is where breaking down a goal into manageable pieces comes in handy. Rather than having a big goal that feels far off, little milestones along the way can help keep you on track and motivated to carry on.

Examples of Small Wins

The most common example of celebrating small steps in addiction recovery is the recognition of days, weeks, and months of sobriety. In 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), participants are given small tokens, often known as chips, when they reach certain milestones.

While it may seem silly to celebrate one week of sobriety, little victories like this, especially early on, can go a long way on the lengthy road to recovery. There’s a reason a common mantra in recovery is “one day at a time.” A lifetime of sobriety may feel impossible, but staying sober today? That’s doable. And that same approach can translate to other goals as well.

Making SMART Goals

One way to break down larger goals into smaller parts is by following the SMART method for goal setting:

  1. Specific steps or milestones will allow you to achieve easy wins that keep you motivated along the way.
  2. Breaking your larger goal into Manageable steps will turn something daunting into something you can accomplish over time.
  3. Setting Achievable goals will give you a chance to celebrate those small steps in addiction recovery or whatever you are working toward.
  4. Keeping milestones Relevant will ensure that you’re making progress toward your larger goal as you work on attaining little victories daily.
  5. Making goals with Time limits will hold you accountable, especially if your larger goal is one that will take a long time to complete. A timeline for completion will keep you on track.
writing down goals

How to Celebrate Small Wins

So, you’ve reached one of your milestones along the way to your larger goal, now what? There are many ways to celebrate small wins, and you can be as creative as you’d like with your celebrations.

Here are some ideas that may help make each and every one of your achievements meaningful:

  • Write down your milestones

Whether it’s four days of recovery, or finishing your résumé as you work toward finding a new job, writing down your accomplishments will make them feel real, and you’ll be able to look back on them for continued motivation.

  • Celebrate those milestones with others

There’s no reason to celebrate little victories alone; let others join in on the party! This is a good reminder that you are worthy of celebrating, and it’s a big deal to accomplish even the smallest of goals.

  • Match the celebration with the milestone

Day one of recovery might call for your favorite takeout. Day 365? That might call for a trip to your favorite vacation spot. As the milestones get bigger, let your celebrations grow as well.

  • Share your wins to inspire others

There are always other people out there, whether in recovery or not, who are one step behind you in reaching their goals. Your successes can provide inspiration to others, so be generous in sharing your story.

Getting Back on the Wagon

Small wins in addiction recovery are important, but you’ll likely have some losses along the way as well. You may even begin to think, I can’t do this. Or, When will I ever quit messing up!?

Small wins in addiction recovery are important, but you’ll likely have some losses along the way as well.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), between 40-60% of people in addiction recovery will relapse. And one way to get back on the wagon is to start right back with celebrating little victories. Get that one-week chip, go to that first recovery meeting, make that call to your therapist or a trusted loved one. One day at a time applies to yesterday as much as it applies to tomorrow. It doesn’t matter what you did yesterday, all that matters is what you’re doing today.

If you find yourself in need of support in your recovery, or if you relapse, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. We at The Meadows Texas offer a range of treatment options for a variety of mental health and addiction issues. Contact us today to allow us to help you achieve your goals for healing.