There are a number of “normal” events, over the course of a lifetime, that are considered milestones. Graduation from school, marriage, anniversaries, birth of children, etc. There are rituals associated with each one that encourage us to celebrate and to reflect on our journey. In reflecting, we are able to experience how much we have accomplished and how far we have come.
When we pause to reflect and celebrate, we experience more satisfaction from our journey. We can see our progress and we can be more intentional about our next direction. Yet, the only milestones that most businesses celebrate are based on the number of years that an organization has been in business. These often don’t provide enough catalyst for the kind of introspection and celebration that is needed to propel us to the next mountain peak.
Simply put, we get more of what we focus on. When we choose to set milestones that are important to us, and then to celebrate our progress or accomplishment, we focus in a heathy and productive way. It also helps us to weather the times that are difficult with more grace and less frustration.
Follow these five steps to take to establish, utilize and celebrate your milestones.
Whether you want to increase your recurring revenue, pay off company debt, grow your customer base or add employees, setting the goal you want to achieve is the first step to creating a milestone. Think about the things that would make your life, as a business owner, better. Is it having a bigger cushion in the bank? More steady revenue coming in each month? Growing your overall sales? Launching a new product? It is OK if the goal is audaciously big. It should be something that is important enough that you will strive for it and big enough that you won’t immediately reach your destination.
If you step away from setting your target without a clear understanding of the action you need to take today and tomorrow, you have more work to do. When you have a clear idea of what to do and you have scheduled it into your day, you’ll spend your time productively working towards your goal. When the goal is too big, you’ll either fail to take action or you’ll invest your time in trying to decide what action to take. Breaking your target into smaller pieces means you know what to do next. If you aren’t sure what action to take, pick a direction. You can always adjust as needed. Creating a plan will help you get started.
It is normal for the action steps to change over time. Set the action steps you’ll take this week, including a step to decide what action to take next week. That way you are always setting little tasks and then achieving them.
Remember that part of the goal of this exercise is to help you focus your attention in a more positive way. While your ultimate target should be a big one, waiting until you achieve it to celebrate means putting off the very positive energy that we are striving to create. For each of your milestones, you should have a celebration. The celebration should be aligned with what you accomplished. Take a big step forward? Do something bigger. Take a few smaller steps? Do something smaller.
The action you take needs to feel like a celebration to you. It needs to be something that helps you continue to move forward when it would be easier to stop. Your celebrations should be perfect for you. Love ice cream – get a premium scoop of your favorite flavor at your favorite shop. Want to relax? Get a massage, pedicure, facial. Wish you had time for your hobby? Create time as a reward for doing great things in your business.
If it is a team project, it should be a team celebration. Little celebrations might be getting everyone a fancy coffee, bringing in lunch, going home 30 minutes early. Larger celebrations should be larger, more compelling and used as a reward for larger achievements.
Some of the winningest sports teams practice what they will do when they win at every single practice. This helps them to be in the attitude of winning. They know what to do when it happens and they are clear about the target. Have you considered what you will do when you achieve your big audacious goal? How about when you hit the milestones on the way to the goal?
Planning to celebrate gives you a clear picture of what comes next. It also helps you stay focused on what you want. If your celebration idea doesn’t make you feel a least a little excited, keep pondering until you find one that does. Then take the time to imagine achieving your goal each day – just 5 minutes will make a big difference in your progress!!
There is a lot to be gained from actually celebrating. Yet celebrating is something most entrepreneurs fail to do. Instead, they skip ahead to the next goal, the next problem, the next whatever, without taking time to savor the victory. Whatever you promised yourself, when you get there, do it. Don’t fuss over the cost. Don’t say “next time.” Just do it.
This step may be especially hard for you. It may feel like you are being inappropriate, bragging or taking your eye off the ball. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is about making a promise to yourself and keeping it.
Remember that part of milestones includes reflecting on your journey and seeing your progress. Don’t minimize your work or your results. Relish the journey. You’ll be surprised at how much further you can travel.