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How to celebrate success: Acknowledge the work you put in and be authentic

Our ability to celebrate something can hinge on how much that achievement actually means to us

Are you successful? That will depend on what success looks like to you, of course.

Our ability to celebrate something can hinge on how much that achievement actually means to us. A promotion to the top job may signify “success” to the world, but if the role fills you with dread you won’t feel much like celebrating.

“To be able to celebrate success first of all it’s about defining what success is for you. That may not be what society says success is,” says Ciarán Coyle, a member of the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and a psychotherapist with

Success is individual to all of us. “For some it’s a good career, to have a family, or to have money in your account. But that might not be what success means to you. Success for you might not be what other people do or what other people have.”


Success doesn’t compare itself to others.

Acknowledge the work

If you have worked hard to get the exam results you wanted, that promotion or personal best time, the single-mindedness and sacrifice required can take a toll. That might explain why achieving your goal has left you feeling a bit “meh”.

“Acknowledging your feelings around that will increase your awareness of what’s going on for you,” says Coyle.

After a period of unrelenting work and high adrenaline, there can be a feeling of depletion and lethargy. Ask yourself, what is it you need to nurture yourself again, he says.

“Connect with the things that bring you joy and happiness, connect with people, or it could mean reaching out to a therapist. Realise there doesn’t have to be a five or 10-year plan. Live in the moment for a bit. Ask yourself, what do I need now?” says Coyle.

“Some days that could be resting and relaxing, other days it could be connecting with people that help us get out of the operating on autopilot that can happen when we are trying to reach milestones.”

Celebrate authentically

When we reach a goal or other significant milestone others can want us to celebrate “big”. They can want us to celebrate in the way that they would celebrate: “So, did you go on the lash, have a massive party or book a blowout holiday? Show me the pictures!’

We can feel a pressure to “celebrate” and for that celebration to meet others’ expectations.

“Ask yourself, what does celebration feel like for you,” says Coyle. “Is it spending time with loved ones, ordering your favourite takeaway, or going to the movies?” You don’t have to celebrate your success in a way that is impressive to others. You don’t even have to celebrate at all. Some people like a big occasion and others don’t. They know they have succeeded and they don’t need to show the world.”

Back yourself

When you achieve a goal it’s important to pause and reflect on that. Journaling can help us to take stock of how far we’ve come, says Coyle. It can also help us to change any negative scripts we might have about ourselves. “We can use each success as motivation to back ourselves – ‘okay, I can do it,’ instead of, ‘I can’t do it’.”

Joanne Hunt

Joanne Hunt

Joanne Hunt, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about homes and property, lifestyle, and personal finance