Small Wins Make a Big Impact

By Jimmy Turner, MD
The Physician Philosopher

It is not only important to celebrate the big milestones in our journey to financial independence.  It is also important to celebrate the small wins, because they have a big impact on our lives.

That is exactly what Peter discusses in this post that was originally published on Passive Income MD.  Are you picking up what he is putting down?

Celebrate the Small Wins

If you’re reading this, I have news for you. You are a high achiever.

Yes, I mean you.

You’ve set lofty goals in your life and you’ve achieved a level of success others only dream of.

This might be in the area of academics, business, or relationships–and for some of you, all of the above. You’ve accomplished big things.

But I have a question for you. When was the last time you celebrated something small?

Really, it’s something you may have never thought about. You see, I’ve found that, over time, highly successful people almost grow numb to small achievements.

For example, when a sports team has won multiple championships, it becomes harder to celebrate winning a regular season game.

The thing is, most of us have forgotten that goals are achieved through a series of small wins.

I’m a huge fan of goal setting. I love setting a lofty goal and then reverse engineering that goal to figure out how to achieve it. I think this is the best way to reach a goal that seemed almost too high–at first.

We should be setting goals that are uncomfortably high. It pushes us to be better. That’s something that I’ve been working on these last few months. So many of us are content to stay in the “safe zone” so we don’t have to risk failure.

Staying Motivated

To reach large goals, we need to find ways to stay motivated. But just how do we do that?

One way to accomplish this is to remind ourselves of these goals daily. Another is to add some emotion to these goals; make sure that they’re a “must” and not a “should.” Keep your focus on why you’re doing it.

And really, we need to celebrate wins along the way. Encouragement goes a long way to helping you stay on your journey.

In fact, many will say that while the goal is important, the journey and process is even more important. That’s where the growth and learning happen, and that’s what makes us feel fulfilled.

For example, look at all the people that have achieved massive fame or accolades. Does that guarantee happiness? Absolutely not. However, I’m sure they felt a purpose in the midst of their journey. Something that helped them push on to their goals.

In practical terms, we should set large goals, but then start breaking them down into smaller chunks.

For example, if you have a ten-year goal, you should also decide where you want to be in five years, then in two years, one year, and six months. Can you reach a place in three months that will put you on pace for that goal?

Once you’ve put some goals in place, it’s also important to celebrate those milestones as you reach them. The three-month goal is just as important as the then year goal because it’s a step taken to where you want to be.

How Do You Celebrate Small Wins?

Here are some ways I’ve found to be effective.

Take time daily to recognize those small wins

Some do it in the form of journaling. Others might meditate. Others just take a few moments before they sleep to remember the good things that they did that day.

Either way, it’s important to take inventory of each daily achievement. That little feeling of pride even gives a little shot of dopamine. Who wouldn’t want that each day?

Share your successes with others

If you have a partner, communicate the small successes to them. They’ll want to share in your wins, and it encourages others as well. If you have a mastermind group or a community of like-minded folks, they’ll also want to celebrate with you.

In our Facebook group, Passive Income Docs, we celebrate “High-Five Fridays,” where we celebrate wins both big and small. Some people highlight things they did well for their families this week. Others involve their businesses, and still, others celebrate the things we take for granted, like just being able to breathe for another day.

Reward Yourself

Figure out a way to celebrate those small wins, whether it’s rewarding yourself at that moment, or simply keeping on track to a bigger celebration. You know what keeps you motivated best. For me, it might be a round of golf, but for some, it might be your favorite ice cream.

Change Your Mindset

It’s a natural human instinct to spend a disproportionate amount of our focus and mental energy on things that went poorly or on things that we can’t control. That’s part of our survival instinct. It helps us avoid future pain.

But realize that failures happen and with continued effort, the overall progress is in a positive direction.

I’m always reminded of that quote by Thomas Edison:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 

It sounds like he had the right perspective. He seems to have found ways to celebrate even the failures in life.

It takes real intentionality to break out of the negative thoughts and focus on the good things in life.

Focusing on the small wins helps with that. When you cultivate that positivity, you’ll be better able to make progress toward your goals. And, dare I say it, that just might be one of the keys to true happiness.


  1. Sylvie

    Thanks for this reminder. Sometimes life just happens and we forget to celebrate even the fact that we managed to wake up today. It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged when things start to go downhill. But, yes, every win in the journey and the learnings that we have accumulated along the way should be celebrated.


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