Why success equals one small victory at a time

A few weeks ago I started practising Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu again after being injured for about 6 months, it has been such a blast. Unfortunately, prior to my second practice, I experienced weird feelings in my lower back and a somewhat cloudy and dizzy mind. Weird. Well, what I told myself was that regardless of the minor setbacks I was experiencing physically towards my practice, I would still go there and roll, being happy for the small victory of practising despite the unfavourable situation (as I thought it was all due to lack of sleep).

So I did. And I was very happy about it. I had such a great time with my partner, and we smiled our way through the practice – until my lower back hurt so much I couldn’t do anything but lie still on the floor. Weird. I spent the rest of the practice watching and learning from others, grateful for the fact that I did show up despite my struggles.

After the workout, I was still very happy about myself. Not happy with how I performed, but happy about the small victory of going there despite my lack of sleep and all that came with it. I got home and then crashed right into my bed with immense fever and body pain. Somewhere around here is when I realised this wasn’t due to lack of sleep, but something else.

Bad example. It turned out I had caught some really nasty disease (thank you Thailand), and probably shouldn’t have gone to my workout – but I was still happy about my minor victory. And that is all that counts. Seeing the beauty in the smallest of progress. Observing life with optimism, gratitude and positivity.

How can we apply this mindset in other parts of our lives?

Well, I’ll leave you with a question.

Who do you think would be more successful in his endeavour to lose weight, the person who is happy ONLY when he has lost 10 pounds, or the person who is happy for every pound that he loses? 

Of course, the later is more prone to succeed, as that person inherently is developing an internal value system that consistently rewards the smallest of progress. This is a major key for positive change and lasting motivation in your actions towards a set goal.

So how do we start to embrace these small victories?

First and foremost, we have to define what progress is to us, otherwise, it’s really hard to embrace the smallest of victories of that very progress. If you’re studying mathematics, what is your ultimate goal? How are you going to get there? Small victories, in this case, could be represented as understanding theoretical concepts, or finishing exercises.

What will help us the most on our way towards becoming a great mathematician, to be happy with ourselves when we have solved all of the exercises, or to be happy about every single exercise that we solve?

The concept is so simple.

Yet so hard.

We aren’t wired to be happy about the small steps we take, we are wired to be happy when we produce RESULTS. But then, wouldn’t we only have to redefine what positive results are to us? Is it the end product, or is it the progress towards it?

These are merely philosophical concepts, and I sincerely invite you to think about how they can be applied to your life. Only you know what situation you are in.

Though changing your perception of a particular aspect of life most often requires more than a philosophical reflection – it requires consistent effort towards your new way of thinking. When you find your mind leaning towards your old way of thinking, gently remind yourself about your new way of thinking. In time, the brain’s plasticity will take care of the rest.

  • Redefine what progress is to you.
  • Embrace the smallest of victories in your progress.
  • Gently focus your mind towards your new way of thinking.
  • Be consistent.
  • Don’t quit.

We now have a simple, general and applicable formula towards a happier state of mind when working towards any set goal.

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