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Just as it may have seemed simple to ease down from an intensity push once you’ve reached a goal, it may seem obvious that when you’ve accomplished your life-changing tasks and gotten to be where you want, you should celebrate.

But it’s not obvious when you get there. Working hard and being disciplined are how you reached success, and if you’re not careful, you’ll turn so automatically to the next task you’ll forget to congratulate yourself, dismissing your success as another part of a never-ending slog.

This isn’t about stopping to smell those ole roses, though that’s important as well. This is about self-support, not just a reward but also a recognition of how far you’ve come and how well you’ve done.

This is about taking in the well-deserved sense of success to build confidence before you start planning for that next ambitious goal.

Is the Path the Goal?

I don’t just want you to succeed, I want you to live a life of success, of happiness, of confidence. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of believing that one success, however great, will leave you permanently happy. Instead, let one success lead to another, and then another.

There is some debate over whether the real value of goal achievement lies in the person you become while reaching your goal or in the goal itself. It seems clear that who you are is more important than what you do. Perhaps it’s best seen as an 80/20 split: 80 you and 20 the goal.

Getting a job, finishing a race, losing 50 pounds, climbing that mountain: these are important things, but ultimately they are just things, just moments. Who you are stays with you and informs everything you do.

How to Celebrate?

Now that you know you need to celebrate, the question becomes how.

First, it should be meaningful to you. If there is some sort of formal ceremony marking your achievement, go. Take pictures. Invite family. Be queen or king for a day.

Is there nothing formal? Create your own celebration. Pub crawl with friends. Make a craft signed by people you love. Do something that will leave you with a memory and possibly a souvenir, and share that experience with others.

Celebrations aren’t about bragging about or lording your success over others. They’re about feeling good about yourself and your accomplishments to help train that brain to want to succeed again.

Celebrations also a great way to recognize people around you who helped while you were giving your goals your all. Was there a friend who always listened? A mentor never stingy with advice? We tend to want to give people presents when we feel grateful, but what’s better than a present of time well spent together? Even in a formal relationship, taking someone and their spouse out to a nice restaurant to say thank you is a class act.

Signal the Transition

Another good thing about a celebration is that it ends, and in doing so it can keep you from lolling about in your success for too long. Waking up the next morning to clean up or pay off the credit card signals the beginning of planning for the next goal and the next future success.