As a career coach, I’m always working on celebrating wins with my clients. Why is it that we remember our losses so much more readily than our wins? Negativity bias is usually responsible for our go-to memories of times we “failed,” or of times when something didn’t go as planned in our careers. It doesn’t mean that what happened is necessarily good or bad, but we tend to beat ourselves up by replaying these negative memories over and over in our heads, rather than celebrating our accomplishments.
Instead of focusing on the negatives, let’s truly celebrate our career wins. Here’s how.
One of the best ways to counteract negativity bias is to practice counting your wins. We’re taught that an uppercase “Win” needs to be a huge, almost unattainable accomplishment. But if we’re not in the habit of practicing celebrating our in-between, lowercase “wins”, we can trick ourselves into ignoring the smaller accomplishments along the way. And those wins make up most of our work life! How would you feel about a friend who never congratulated you on any of your small wins? Not great, right? Let’s make sure we’re being a better friend to ourselves by celebrating all of our wins — big, small and in-between.
Did you lead a meeting that went well? Win! Did you propose a new idea that was adopted in your company? Win! It all counts, so let’s start counting.
This could be a new job, a promotion or the completion of a large-scale project. Did you do something different, stretch yourself or learn a new skill? Celebrate. It doesn’t always need to be a promotion, but make it something that was slightly outside your comfort zone, maybe a longer-term goal of some kind.
I encourage a physical reward as well as emotionally acknowledging yourself. This part is less about incentivizing yourself with a certain thing, and more about taking the time to celebrate the progress you’ve made in your career.
Your reward can be a physical token, something that you’ve been wanting but wouldn’t normally go out and buy, an experience (my personal favorite reward is a plane ticket to somewhere new!) or something else entirely. You know what a true reward feels like to you, so follow that instinct.
This might sound crazy but reward your failures as well. Taking a true risk is rare in today’s world, as we’re taught to play it safe for the most part. But if you’ve been brave enough to try something new and it didn’t work out, it’s ok. It’s more than ok — you’ve learned something new about yourself, what you like and what kind of work suits you and inspires you. Celebrating job rejections may even help us fear them less. Let’s make friends with imperfection and rejection.
Getting a new job is a big, big accomplishment, don’t get me wrong. But if we wait until we get a job to celebrate, then we might only celebrate ourselves every 2-3 years, if not longer. I prefer to build the muscle of self-recognition by recognizing how far we’ve come, no matter the outcome of our next job interview.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.
Marjorie Kalomeris is the Founder of MK Career Coaching, an interview and career coaching consultancy for women in tech. Marjorie is a Senior Recruiter in the tech space and has recruited at several hyper-growth tech companies like LinkedIn and HubSpot. She has lived in Ireland and the Netherlands and is currently based in NYC. Sign up for her new LinkedIn newsletter, Ask a Recruiter, here.