Power of Small Wins—Results from A Research Study

I used to be focused on big wins. In truth, only something big used to matter. Later, I started writing down all the wins every day. Many of them were small, but still, they were my wins. They did matter.

Then I read one exciting research study — The Power Of Small Wins by Amabile and Kramer. As a matter of fact, I had proof from professionals that small wins matter.

Amabile and Kramer have been studying people’s psychological experiences as well as their performance when they perform difficult work for nearly 15 years.

They say that everyday progress—even a small win—can make all the difference. Moreover, they add that progress’s power is fundamental to human nature. In addition, they state that even small wins can raise the inner work life excessively.

“We found that the most common event triggering a “best day” was any progress in the work by the individual or the team. The most common event triggering a “worst day” was a setback.”

— Amabile and Kramer

What people in the research study say

Here’s a typical record from a programmer: “I smashed that bug that’s been frustrating me for almost a calendar week. That may not be an event to you, but I live a very drab life, so I’m all hyped .”

The researchers have also asked about the executive tools that may influence workers’ motivation and emotions. The respondents ranked five tools (in order of importance):
1) support for making progress in the work;
2) recognition for good work;
3) incentives;
4) interpersonal support;
5) clear goals.

If you asked me to rank the tools, I would surely note support as #1. It is significant at work and, without a doubt, in all I do. Even with my blog—support is what not only helps me write more but also share valuable information with you! Support is my fuel. It is what keeps me motivated. I’d really appreciate it if you could leave an encouraging comment here.

Celebrating small wins

Researchers claim that our brains are wired to remember negative events rather than positives positive ones. It is called a negativity bias.

Our brains need extra effort to remember positive moments. No doubt, we need positive events to increase self-esteem. When you celebrate your small wins regularly, you reward yourself. In addition, the neurotransmitter are released and dopamine that increases motivation, your self-esteem, mood, and even attention. It all leads to further success.

It is not necessary to have big celebrations. You can think of a way you could do it. For example, eating out, meeting with your friends to share your win, or buying yourself a bouquet of flowers. Another good idea is to write down your wins in your journal. The most important part here is to recognize your efforts and victories and praise yourself for success.

How I celebrate my small wins

My celebrations are simple. I share them with my husband and my close friends. Very often, I share them on Instagram. I do my best to capture them and not forget them. For example, I take screenshots of my wins. When my blog posts got on the first page of Google searches, I screenshotted them. When Cambridge University posted my YouTube videos every month for 10 months in a row on their Facebook group, I screenshotted them as well. 

There is an interesting application, celebratewins.io, where you can track your wins, and then, look back at them.

What was your small win today? Let me know in the comments below.

Used sources:

Amabile, T. M., & Kramer, S. J. (2020, May 6). The power of small wins. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from https://hbr.org/2011/05/the-power-of-small-wins

Cheyette, B., & Cheyette, S. (2021, November 22). Why it’s important to celebrate small successes. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/1-2-3-adhd/202111/why-its-important-celebrate-small-successes

Park, J., Lu, F. C., & Hedgcock, W. M. (n.d.). Relative effects of forward and backward planning on goal pursuit. Psychological science. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28910234/

Rothstein , L., & Stromme, D. (n.d.). Celebrate the small stuff. Positive Psychology | UMN Extension. https://extension.umn.edu/two-you-video-series/celebrate-small-stuff#:~:text=According%20to%20research%20by%20Teresa,boosts%20your%20sense%20of%20confidence.

3 responses to “Power of Small Wins—Results from A Research Study”

  1. I love this! This was so informative and inspiring. I often talk about the importance of celebrating small wins on my blog as well. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love celebrating the little wins! It’s always made me feel like I’m moving forward and actually achieving something! My small win today was sitting in the sun having a coffee today. Little Miss hasn’t been sleeping much all week and is teething and clingy, so I’m exhausted and needed a break. I was in a bad mood so I dropped her at the gym creche and spent about an hour relaxing and was able to clear the fun and feel much better the rest of the day 🙂

  3. Great blog post, it was encouraging and helpful. Small win for yesterday was accomplishing every single small work goal I had planned out. I’m always good about hitting my mark and instead of enjoying it as much as I should I get busy moving to the next task or mark. Thanks for the reminder!

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