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People who know me understand that I have big goals and huge ambitions.

I’m never done pushing to get the next win. My eyes are on the prize—as a business owner, as a fitness freak, and as a husband and father.  

But big wins—those massive moments of success—don’t happen overnight. Spartan didn’t grow into a global brand in a week, or a month, or a year. It happened by achieving and then celebrating small wins along the way.  

Learning how to take the time to recognize stepping-stone accomplishments is invaluable.

William Harry McRaven, the retired United States Navy admiral, says that one of the most important things you can do is make your bed every morning. He says that in order to be a real leader—in order to get to the big goal—you have to master and flawlessly execute hitting the small targets—they lead to hitting the big ones.

Why are Celebrating Small Wins Important?

Small wins help us acknowledge our skills and talent, while building confidence. An example of this is boxing coaches who give fighters a “layup” match in advance of the big contest. The fighters gain confidence with a knockout and go into the next match feeling like they can take on the world.

Research from a Cornell study shows how small wins provide information that facilitates learning and adaptation. They are “miniature experiments” that show opportunity and capability for something greater.

Accomplishments open the reward circuitry in our brains, releasing dopamine to energize us and make us feel good.

I say it all the time: when we feel good, we do good. Give yourself permission to pat yourself on the back every once in a while.

When you celebrate one small win, then you’re quickly on your way to accomplishing another one, and another one, and so on. The constant progress pushes you to the big breakthrough. Don’t discredit progress.

How to Manufacture Small Wins Every Day

You can create small wins in your life every day. It’s simple. Add the small stuff to your to-do list.

Here’s mine:

  • Get out of bed and do 100 burpees
  • Hug my wife and kids
  • Clear my email inbox
  • Eat fruits or veggies at every meal
  • Plan the next SpartanX Leadership Forum with the team
  • Plan and execute the next Spartan Up Podcast
  • Get 100 million people off the couch

I’ve added easy tasks that I know I can accomplish next to the larger ones that I might not get to throughout the day. Hugging my wife and kids takes only seconds, and I can cross it off. It’s a small win that makes me feel good—that gives me a boost.

And if you don’t get to the largest item on your list, it doesn’t mean the day was a total waste. At the end of the day, make a note of what you did that got you closer to completing the task.

Maybe I didn’t plan the whole SpartanX event. But maybe I did find the perfect speaker. Maybe I didn’t get 100 million people off the couch. But maybe I did provide a workout plan to someone who was struggling.  

I’m going to mark down those wins and celebrate those accomplishments.  

So, stay focused, put in the work, and recognize progress. Take time to enjoy the milestones. Because when finally do hit it big, that success will feel more substantial and worth it.

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