Don't Forget to Have At Least One Marshmallow

Take time to appreciate what you have accomplished!  I recently learned about the Walter Mischel “Marshmallow” experiment.  The experiment was a study on delayed gratification in children.  Children were given one treat (such as a marshmallow), then given the choice to eat it or wait to get a second one, when the instructor returned (approximately 15 minutes later).  These same children were then revisited as adults.  Those who waited for the second marshmallow had better life outcomes. 

Recently, I was speaking with a friend about this experiment and she brought up a good point – what about those who don’t eat any marshmallows.  What do I mean by that?  How many of us know of someone who goes from one goal to another, one accomplishment to another and hardly stops to CELEBRATE the accomplishment?  I bet we all know one! 

So why stop and take the time?  Celebrating and being grateful for accomplishing our goal can serve an advantageous purpose. 

One:  Celebrating our accomplishment, gives us time to reflect on the journey.  This gives us a moment to really be proud of what we did.   Reflecting on our journey can also remind us of what worked well and what didn’t work so well.  This information can be very helpful when working on future goals.  It give us an opportunity to learn from our experiences.  If we don’t stop to reflect we might miss the lesson.

Second:  Did you know that being grateful can benefit your health?  It has been known to help with depression and sleeping habits, among other things.  So why not take a moment and be grateful for your goal?  You did it!  I am sure there were times you felt it was too much or things didn’t go exactly as you planned, but you pulled through.  That is amazing!  Want to do it again?  Gratitude has been known to help!  “…feelings of gratitude directly activated brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine feels good to get, which is why it’s generally considered the “reward” neurotransmitter. But dopamine is also almost important in initiating action. That means increases in dopamine make you more likely to do the thing you just did. It’s the brain saying, ‘Oh, do that again’.”

Here are a few things you can do:

1.        Track your goals.  You want to identify what you are working towards and establish measures which let you know you have accomplished it.  Once you have accomplished your goal, take a few moments and reflect.  As I mentioned earlier, take a moment to think about what worked well and what didn’t. 

2.       Keep a gratitude journal.  Either in the am or pm, take about 5 minutes to think about all that you have to be grateful for (e.g., accomplishing a goal, life, job, spouse, home, etc.).

3.       Celebrate your accomplishment.  Celebration can take many forms, how do you like to celebrate?  Go to dinner, take a spa day or relax in your much loved chair reading or watching your favorite show. 

4.       Share your accomplishment with someone close to you.

Remember you are worth it!