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 Tips  on spiritual growth, emotional health, and relational healing.

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Celebrate Every Win!

Aug 25, 2015

When we got married in 2008, my wife and I were $220,000 in debt…without a mortgage.

Between student loans, a car payment, a personal loan and a load of credit card debt, we were in a bad spot. Finances created a lot of tension in our relationship and discussing them during pre-marital counseling was extremely uncomfortable for me.

Not long after we got married, we set a goal of paying off our credit cards within the next two years. This meant paying WAY beyond the minimum, along with getting rid of our cards. I picked up a second job (and a third one for a season) to increase our payments. At one point, I worked for over 50 days without a day off.

When we paid off our first credit card, we did something strange. We took the couple who did our premarital counseling out to a fancy Italian dinner. Their counseling session had been the beginning of this journey. It seemed strange to spend over $100 on dinner when we were doing all we could to cut costs. But, we felt like it was worth celebrating this milestone! In fact, it was that celebration that fueled us to pay off cards two and three by our second anniversary. Our confidence soared after that night!

We paid off $25,000 in credit card debt and personal loans in those two years (this doesn’t include what we paid off the student loans and car payment too). To this day, I’m blown away at we accomplished.

I learned so much about celebration from that season.

Before that experience, I underestimated the value of celebration. I had no idea how celebration fuels our energy and momentum when we’re doing hard things. I had no idea that celebrating a little victory (paying off our smallest debt) would lead to paying off more, bigger debts.

Some of us mistakenly think celebration takes our focus and attention off our goals. We think celebration is letting up on our pursuits. However, it is that very celebration which fuels our drive and purposed pursuit of our goals.

When we pause long enough to celebrate, we gain the perspective to see how far we’ve come, how much we’ve accomplished and how our success is dependent on far more than our efforts. Celebration reminds us that God’s faithfulness and other people’s generosity impact our ability to succeed.

Celebration keeps us grateful. Gratitude leads us away from greed and towards generosity.

Celebration reframes our experience, showing us transformation comes in the process of pursuing a dream. Paying off our credit cards was awesome, but what happened in my character and our marriage over those two years was even greater.

Celebration isn’t a waste of time or laziness; it’s actually one of the best ways to ensure we’ll reach our goals and experience transformation!

If you need to add more celebration to your life or struggle with celebrating, consider these next steps.

1. Establish a small number of goals with a date attached to each.
This year in January, I identified 11 writing goals. I review them every week – they keep me focused. I’ve reached three of them and seeing what I’ve done fuels me to go after the ones that remain.

When you set a goal with a deadline, you set the table a celebration. You know what success looks like and you built anticipation for achieving it. You schedule your celebration and work hard to get ready for it!

2. Celebrate every win.
I once asked one of my friends why he didn’t get into politics. He’s incredibly intelligent, a great communicator, very persuasive and builds collaboration beautifully. His response was insightful. “To be a politician, I would have to celebrate every little victory and get excited about even the smallest amount of progress without losing heart. I don’t think I could do that.”

Sometimes, celebration has to become a discipline when it’s a small win. We often despise small wins because we want bigger ones. But small wins can lead to major breakthroughs. Do not discount the impact of each milestone on a long journey, especially in the lonely, difficult middle.

3. Connect your goals to your purpose.
Gail Hyatt says, “People lose their way when they lose their why.” Celebrating every win reconnects us to the purpose behind our work. And the “why” is ridiculously important.

When you can connect your goals to a bigger purpose or mission, you see why those little celebrations are so huge…they’re just a small picture of what that big celebration will look like.

4. Be okay with a change in plans.
Mike Tyson once said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched.” While we love our plans, we must be more committed to the goal than the plan to get there. We must become comfortable being flexible.

Make your plans for pursuing your goal but hold them loosely as you may need to adjust your ideas of the best pathway to achieving the goal. Adjusting your plan doesn’t mean failure but refusing to adjust them might guarantee it. Be immovable in commitment to your goal and adaptable in your plans.

5. Celebrate when God provides (new) direction.
Proverbs 3:5-6 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 16:9 reads, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

One of the things worth celebrating is God providing direction, even when it’s a change of direction or an uncomfortable direction. When we sense God directing our path, we ought to pause long enough to acknowledge God moved in our hearts and we actually got the message!

I believe some incredible things are in store for you this year. I hope you’ll have lots of celebrations before the fireworks go off in January.

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