As the summer starts to wind down, one powerful way to end the season on a high note is to reflect on the small wins we’ve had over the past couple of months. In fact, there’s even science behind the power of celebrating our small wins: BJ Fogg, Ph.D., author of Tiny Habits and Behavioral Science Chair of Thrive’s Scientific Advisory Board, says one of the fundamental steps of behavior change is celebrating our little victories, so that our brain associates them with positive feelings.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the small wins they’ve had recently. Which of these wins resonates with you?

Reconnecting with old friends

“I started reconnecting with old friends this summer — reminding them of how we met, our good memories, things I appreciated in them, and thanking them for being my friend on this beautiful journey of life.”

—Saara Ali, lawyer, Dubai, UAE

Taking time to move

“I’ve started incorporating daily walks back into my routine. This is something I had naturally done for years, but since Covid, I slowly started moving my body less until I wasn’t doing much exercise at all. One day this past June, I decided that I was going to take a 20-minute walk and listen to my favorite podcast. I felt like I had reached my tipping point where my body was screaming at me to move. After that, I started walking every day, and my mood and energy have improved. And being a mom to a four-year-old, I need it! I am proud of myself that I listened to what I needed and made time to meet those needs.”

—Angela Ficken, psychotherapist, Boston, MA

Teaching our kids to do laundry

“One small win but a huge victory was getting our 10-year-old to take his hamper downstairs and do his own laundry. We’re still working on the folding piece but we’re celebrating our small wins to start!”

—Joshua Miller, master certified executive and personal coach, Austin, TX

Starting a new role at work

“The best win this year for me was starting a new position as a people leader within my company.  I was lucky enough to be presented with an opportunity to really challenge myself as a leader and technical engineer. This new role is quite a departure from roles I have held in the past, but the most rewarding part is that the team I have joined is a really incredible group filled with welcoming, engaging, supportive people. I am so excited for what the future holds for me in this new exciting role.”

—Suzanne Schnaars, senior manager engineering, Basking Ridge, NJ

Spending more time outside

“I started off the summer knowing that I wanted to spend more time in nature, taking in all it has to offer. I decided to start in a small way: to take 10-15 minutes each day sitting on the patio, by myself, with no phone or laptop. I’m happy to say that I was able to do that most days. So much goes on out there that just doesn’t get noticed when I have my phone in hand: the birds, the woodpecker, the sounds of the frogs, the rabbits and so many flowers in the garden. I also took walks a few times a week, and by combining both quiet time on the patio and occasional walks outdoors, I was able to reset my stress levels.”

—Jen Rigley, founder Chicago, IL

Shifting our perspective

“A small win I’ve had this summer is learning to take a step back and see the full picture. In the past, I would often find myself hyper-focused on certain things that would be happening in my life, but not actually step out and widen the view to see the full picture. Everything that has happened and is happening is playing a key part into the next season of my life, and learning to shift the lens to a wider view has helped me regain momentum and excitement.”

—Victoria Franca, founder, Miami, FL

Taking a solo camping trip

“I went solo camping this summer. People said a woman nearing 60 probably shouldn’t solo camp, kayak down the river, or be ‘away from everyone,’ but I found it life-changing, rejuvenating, and most importantly, it allowed me to be me. I like the me that can cook on a campfire, float down a river, and stay up late with the moon and stars.  Falling in love with yourself is one of the most powerful things we can do.  I already have planned next year’s trip — a cabin high on a riverbank — this time with plumbing and electricity.”

—Renee Tarantowski Baude, grad student, Chicagoland, IL

Starting an exciting project

“Recently, I was asked to contribute a chapter to a book. The request came from a very successful Ivy League professor. Although it isn’t certain when the manuscript will be published, simply being asked to be a part of this project made me feel seen and valued.”

—Kristin A. Meekhof, author and book consultant, Royal Oak, MI 

Creating a family album

“My first grandson arrived last year, and his brother will make an appearance in October.  I have gathered photographs, stories, and everything I can on family history, including things they will inherit. I ended up with nearly 200 pages of bedtime stories and bright pictures.”

—Elaine DiRico, Austin, TX

Making time for self-care

“This summer, I didn’t worry about my status or how much money I made; I didn’t focus on putting in long hours or crushing goals. Rather, I focused on giving myself time each morning. I have consistently started each morning with breathing exercises, meditation, and stretching. Each meal I hand-cooked from organic plants which I hand-picked from my garden or Sprouts supermarket. I spent time in the sun and exercised nearly everyday. I live on an organic farm in Escondido California where I am immersed in nature and am able to bring groups out every weekend for a forest bath. I coach veterans and first responders on behavioral sleep health and can feel the impact I am making. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be the best version of myself.”

—Robert Sweetman, retired Navy SEAL turned sleep scientist, San Diego, CA

Taking a tech-free trip

“I took a 10-day trip to Ireland and unplugged fully from work and spent quality time with friends and family. There were no televisions, internet, or technology at all. We had daily hikes, met amazing people, and truly relaxed fully.”

—Jacque Lyons, regulatory creation center lead, Collegeville, PA

Learning something new

“I am 63 and working full-time, but have been wanting something else. I have been studying an online course that was dramatically interrupted when I moved in March. After even further delay, I focused this summer and made this course a priority outside of my routine. I am not finished yet but I have made beautiful progress and creative solutions. I am proud of myself. Small efforts can lead to big changes.”

—Judy Palaferro, author

Staying active

“I have always struggled with maintaining a consistent exercise regimen.  In the past, I have had all the best intentions about beginning a health fitness program only to find ‘justifiable excuses’ to let those intentions fizzle to nothing.  In the last nine months, however, I have joined a local fitness group and I consider it a win that I remain an active member and, barring out-of-town travel or illness, I have continued to go early every Monday, Wednesday and Friday – even on those days when I could easily talk myself out of it.”

—Donna Lind, strategic account manager, Valparaiso, IN

Setting boundaries

“Keeping my boundaries is a small win this summer! I have kept my limits and said no to things that do not serve me. For example, I have continued to say no to hour-long meetings. Also, I will do 30-minute walking meetings instead of being at a desk with my hair and makeup done. I stay in my lane and do not try to do everything for everyone; I am focused on one clientele, which makes me feel good day in and day out! I never have more than two work meetings daily to stay rejuvenated and energetic.”

—Olivia Summerhill, divorce financial consultant, Seattle, WA

Decluttering our homes

“As a new season is on the horizon with a change in temperature, I have been decluttering and donating and it has been very liberating. I feel lighter, I feel as though I have created space for new opportunities and I feel less chaotic amidst all the stuff that we so often accumulate. Bring on the new season and new beginnings!”

—Candice Tomlinson, coach and hypnotherapist, Sydney, Australia

Making the decision to retire

“I have put off retirement for over five years. I rationalized that work needed me. Every time I got close to retiring, I’d make some excuse. After reading about self-care, I decided I deserved to retire. I finally submitted my retirement after 24 years. I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. It was a small win that allowed me to make time for myself: time to relax, travel, and enjoy life.”

—Gerry Tucker, spiritual writer and author, Austin, TX

Giving ourselves permission to recharge

“I committed to three weeks off work this summer in order to travel with my adult children.  I have never taken that much time off work! But both kids were rewarded with big promotions and decided to not travel and instead double down on work.  I’m proud of myself for still taking this time off and giving myself permission to relax, renew, and rejuvenate.”

—Carolyn Mahboubi, certified master coach, CA

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Author(s)

  • Rebecca Muller

    Senior Editor and Community Manager

    Thrive

    Rebecca Muller Feintuch is the Senior Editor and Community Manager at Thrive. Her previous work experience includes roles in editorial and digital journalism. Rebecca is passionate about storytelling, creating meaningful connections, and prioritizing mental health and self-care. She is a graduate of New York University, where she studied Media, Culture and Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. For her undergraduate thesis, she researched the relationship between women and fitness media consumerism.