Taking the time to recognize your accomplishments is what builds skyscraper—tall levels of self-worth, which determines how successful you’re going to be. When University of Connecticut researchers put women on a 12­week diet and offered half of them a weekly chance of receiving small rewards if they lost a pound, those who received rewards lost twice as much weight. Taking the time to reinforce your adherence to goals by celebrating your successes can similarly boost your motivation. I call this “jumping for joy.”

This used to be one of my biggest personal challenges. I’m much better at it today, but I still have a tendency to accomplish something and, without pausing, I move on to the next thing, forgetting to congratulate myself on a job well done. (Just like you, I have areas to improve on!) For example, I never went to my college graduation. I had put in hour after hour of studying and doing the work, and without even thinking about it, I simply didn’t go. I deeply regret not going, and I can’t go back. But not going taught me a valuable lesson.

Nowadays, when I finish a project or complete a race, I take the time to congratulate myself by getting a massage, taking in a Broadway show or spending a special evening with friends. A reward doesn’t have to be a trip to the Caribbean. It just needs to bring a smile to your face. But it can’t add in any guilt. You need to feel just as happy and proud after your reward as before and during. (That means no hot fudge sundaes if you’re trying to lose weight…no splurge on designer shoes if you’re trying to save money.) Jumping for joy means remembering the importance of taking time to celebrate today’s successes…to love and appreciate what you’re doing right now…and to acknowledge each moment fully.

Also helpful: Writing is another way to reach your goals, which I wrote about a few months back in this blog post. And here’s some advice on how to better prepare yourself to make your goals more achievable—so you have something to celebrate.

Check out his website, or click here to buy Joel Harper’s book, Mind Your Body: 4 Weeks to a Leaner, Healthier Life.

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