Focus On This Podcast

113. Overcome the Lies That Undermine Celebration



You’re invested in achieving your goals. But recently, the joy has gone out of the journey. You’re quick to notice where you’re falling short. Every time you hit a major milestone, your eyes are already on the next obstacle. You find yourself frustrated and tired. The solution isn’t to push through. It’s to pause and celebrate.

In this episode, Courtney and Blake talk candidly about what makes celebration so important—and so hard for high-achievers. The likely culprit? The lies we believe. But you’re not the victim of your thinking. Noticing and unpacking your internal obstacles is the first step toward defeating them.

In this episode, you’ll discover—

  • An underrated energy source
  • Why celebrating past wins can lead to future success
  • The correlation between how we treat ourselves and how we treat others
  • What makes celebration valuable for training our brains
  • Solidarity if practicing celebration is hard for you

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Episode Transcript

Courtney: So, Blake, I think there are some times on this podcast where there’s an episode that I feel really passionate about or you feel really passionate about, and sometimes it’s like the opposite extreme, where it’s like, “Oh, this episode is to remind you to keep working on this thing.” Maybe that happens for you as well.

Blake: Yeah. That’s probably most episodes for me. “I should keep working on this thing.”

Courtney: It’s really true. I feel like that a lot of times too, but this one, specifically, for me, is a great reminder to continue to make progress on… I say that because I think a lot of people listening may feel like you and I have it moderately together. And I think we do…moderately together. But we’re certainly not perfect, and this episode today, I feel like, is one… I just have to keep working on this. Today, we are talking about celebration and why it’s important.

Blake: I want to celebrate your self-awareness here, Courtney, just cheer you on and have a little five-second party about the fact that you know you need to work on this. I think we all need to work on this. This, historically… Maybe I’ll phrase it this way. Sometimes maybe your high-achieving individuals are so hyper-focused on getting the things done they can not do so great at actually celebrating or acknowledging the wins, acknowledging the gain.

We want to put on the scuba gear in this episode, do some “Blub-blub-blub,” go deep, and discover why that is, because it might be costing you more than you think…Courtney. Oh, sorry. That was too direct. It might be costing you more than you think, any generic person (also Courtney and me).

Courtney: That’s right.

Blake: So, today, get ready. Get your scuba gear on. We’re going to talk about three lies holding you back from celebrating and three truths you can use to combat them.

Welcome to another episode of Focus on This, the most productive podcast on the Internet, so you can banish distractions, get the right stuff done, and finally start loving Mondays. My name is Blake Stratton, and I am here with the well-known, the chief marketing officer, the legend of productivity herself, Courtney Baker.

Courtney: Oh man, Blake. That is so tongue-in-cheek, but do you know the other day I… Our producer Nick was sharing with me how much this podcast is growing, and to that end, I had an outside group come in. They were doing a strategy session with us. One of the guys who came was a Full Focus Planner user, and I was like…

We were talking about the planner, and I said something about the podcast, and I pretend… I don’t want to know. I pretend nobody listens to the podcast. He was like, “Oh, yeah. I listen to the podcast.” Blake, I was the most awkward person ever from that point on. I was like, “I don’t know how to act now.”

Blake: Well, you’re at a strategic disadvantage, because he has never seen your face. He only knows your voice, so then you’re like, “Oh, gosh. This is a relationship now.”

Nick: I can imagine Courtney trying to walk, and she’s doing, like, right foot, right hand as she’s trying to… “How do I do this?”

Courtney: “How do I act now?” Oh gosh. Yeah, it was really funny.

Blake: So, yeah. Back to this being the most productive podcast on the Internet. Super focused. Today, what we’re talking about, Courtney, is your heart’s deepest passion.

Courtney: Yeah…celebrating.

Blake: It gets you out of bed in the morning. Celebrating. “Celebrate…” That’s all I can sing. Otherwise, we have to pay a royalty.

Courtney: For everybody listening, there are a couple of lies we tell ourselves about celebrating that we’re going to cover today. The first lie you may be telling yourself is that celebrating isn’t really that important. I don’t know that we say that consciously. I think if somebody asked us point blank we’d be like, “Yeah, celebrating…it’s great.”

I know, for me, my top StrengthsFinder strength is Focus. It’s a very powerful tool for me and definitely on brand for being on a podcast about focus. The problem is I get so focused on what goals I’m pushing after, what the next thing that’s coming is, that celebrating feels like it’s moving me away from what I’m driving toward.

If you’re listening and you’re like, “Oh, yeah; that is totally me,” or maybe during your Weekly Preview every week you’re like, “Okay. Uh, what were my wins? Oh, here’s one thing or maybe two things,” you might be in this camp with me. If you’re like, “Oh, I can tell you all day how to improve something or what needs to start and what needs to stop. I’m great at that but really struggle with the winning part,” this might be the lie you’re telling yourself.

Blake: I’m sure I’m guilty of this one. I’ll take time to write my goals. I don’t really think ahead. The whole, like, “Oh yeah. It would be nice, I guess, to think about what a reward might be or how I’ll celebrate,” but that’s the part that’s so easy to forget or just to not do, because you think, “Well, the important thing is to get the thing done and then to move on to the next thing and to the next thing.”

Courtney: Right.

Blake: So, let’s go deep on this, because this is a big one. We’re coming out hot here. We’re not just going to tell you to celebrate. We actually want to expose why that is a lie. Let’s talk about the truth, what we’re missing out on as long as we’re believing this lie that celebrating isn’t important.

Courtney: The truth is (and, yes, I’m talking to myself here) celebrating victories increases our satisfaction and our momentum. Again, I know that’s counterintuitive. It feels like, “No, I have to keep pushing in to the next big thing.” I feel like what can happen if we continue to not celebrate wins is failure or mistakes, issues… They can loom larger in our minds. I think that’s a natural thing.

To combat that, we need to celebrate our victories to kind of balance… Otherwise, you look back, and you’re like, “Oh yeah. I see all of the failures, but I don’t see any of the successes.” I think celebrating helps do that. It has a lot of big tools, but for me, personally, that’s one of the biggest things. You can actually look back and notice what’s working. “Oh yeah! I did do that big thing. That was an important accomplishment.” But if we don’t take the time to celebrate, all we can see is the issues or the breakdowns that happen.

Blake: So, if you were to do some scuba question-asking about why you’re trying to achieve a goal, if you go deep, deep, deep, you’ll eventually probably arrive at something that sounds like, “Because I would feel successful” or “Because I would feel happy” or “Because I would feel more free. I’d be more powerful or I’d be more…” There’s some type of joy-oriented feeling that we’re anticipating will come once we achieve the goal.

That’s not a bad thing, because joy is this hugely underrated energy source. It is so helpful to be energized by joy than scarcity or despair or fear or anxiety. Those are energy sources too, just not quite as clean as a joyful energy source. The problem is if we don’t believe celebrating is important, we’re actually self-sabotaging our whole mission right from the start, because if we’re skipping the part where we can enjoy…

It’s almost like training your brain, too, to go, “Oh, right. I am worthy of experiencing the joyful satisfaction of achieving a goal or of finishing a big project or hitting a milestone.” When you can start training yourself that, “Oh, no, that is important,” now all of a sudden you can actually use that joyful energy source that you get as a result and enjoy probably the reason, at least at some level, why you were pursuing that goal in the first place.

Courtney: That’s such a good point. I think without celebrating and taking the time to acknowledge your achievement, it can’t be used… It ends the energy source. It’s like you can’t use it or pull from it in the future when you come upon a challenge. You can’t look back and say, “Oh, I had that other challenge, and I achieved what I was trying to do” if you just gloss over that you actually accomplished something big. It just ends there.

Blake: Something I really appreciate about my wife Alaina is that for her, her birthday… We’re in our 30s. She still enjoys celebrating her birthday and taking some time, a breather, a break, to think about the last year and to do something fun and to celebrate. I’ve always been like, “Oh, whatever. Don’t even worry that it’s my birthday,” like, “Let’s just get through the week,” or whatever.

What I’ve noticed is that she reconnects with so many things when she takes time to celebrate. It’s not like achieving a goal, but it’s achieving some goal of “Hey, I’m still alive for another year.” It’s this opportunity for her, and I really admire that. I think it has become a significant point for her, where she can reconnect with her why a little bit, like, “Yeah, there were some highs. There were some lows. Here’s what I’ve gained, and here’s how I want to move forward.”

The celebration becomes this inspiration point, I guess, this chapter marker, of the ending of one season and the excitement about bringing in another season. So, that’s just one of the many things I need to learn from her, but this one of taking celebration seriously I think is important.

Courtney: Okay. The second lie… Oh man. I feel like we could do a whole episode on this one. The second lie you may be telling yourself about celebrating is that people will think you’re bragging. This is a legit concern, a legit thing that you may be telling yourself. It’s not a legit concern, but legit that you are probably telling yourself. I see this a lot, and I feel this a lot culturally in the US as a woman in leadership. I think we’re especially conditioned to hedge all of our achievements into we. “We did this. We accomplished this.”

Again, going back to what I shared earlier, when you can’t even say, “Yeah, we did do this, but I did X, Y, Z,” it creates this barrier in the future to be able to look back and see, “Okay, I did this” and be able to say, “If I did it then, I can take that into the future, into the next challenge. I’ve done it before; I can do it again,” with whatever you’re trying to accomplish.

Blake: I’ve been thinking a lot about this principle. I like this episode because we keep going deep with stuff. A way to think about this, if you struggle with this… It’s similar to maybe anything else in your life that you feel like you get feedback from other people that is maybe less than positive. Usually, we get that feedback because we’re treating ourselves in that same way that we’re treating the other person.

Here’s an example. If I get feedback from a team member or from a family member, saying, “Man! Blake, you’re being so critical” or “You’re really being hyper-critical of me right now; this is not fun to be around you,” it’s usually not because I dislike someone or I’m trying to be critical. It’s usually because I’m most critical with me, and I’m being extra critical on myself. We all experience this. It’s not personal when someone is perhaps angry with you. That’s kind of how they are in their own world.

So, if you’re struggling with, “Well, I don’t want to celebrate myself because I don’t want to appear a certain way,” or whatever, one benefit of taking time to celebrate yourself… Again, you don’t need to shove it in everybody’s face that “Hey, I did this amazing thing. Aren’t I so great? Please lavish me with gifts and fine wine,” or whatever. I mean, you could do that.

But taking time to celebrate yourself is really a form of self-care. I want to improve in this area because I want to become better at celebrating others’ achievements, and I don’t want people to get a vibe from me when they achieve that “Oh, that’s fine. You don’t really need to take time to celebrate that.” I want them to feel supported and encouraged by me.

Courtney: Blake, I actually did a little exercise with the marketing team a few months ago. I may have talked about this on the podcast before. At the beginning of our team meeting, I asked everybody to share a win, and I wanted them to frame it as their accomplishment in it. I think so much we’re like, “Oh, we did this awesome thing,” which is great. Again, we’re communal. We’re on a team. I love that. All of those things are really powerful things.

But I think there is a place to pinpoint, “Okay. What was it about me that accomplished this?” or “What did I accomplish?” I had everybody do that, and it was really hard for people. It was hard for everybody to frame up “What was my accomplishment?” They would even say it and think they had accomplished… They said it, and I would be like, “Okay. That was actually a group… What was your contribution?”

I think this is a really powerful thing, and it may even be something you want to do individually by yourself or with someone close to you, to say, “Let me break down… What am I celebrating? What was my achievement?” Maybe that’s the first step if you’re really worried, like, “Hey, I don’t want to come across as I’m bragging.” Again, to your point, Blake, I think a lot of people want to celebrate you if given the opportunity to do so.

Blake: You’re saying you’d like to pause the podcast and just celebrate me right now, Courtney?

Courtney: Yes, Blake. What about this podcast…?

Blake: Okay, cool. Let’s cancel this. No. I love that. All right. So, the first lie is that celebrating really isn’t that important. The second lie is people will just think you’re bragging. That’s totally not true. The third lie we’re going to cover today is that celebrating will lead me to settle. If you are a really driven person, if you have big dreams and goals, you know, “Oh, gosh! I don’t want to be discontent, per se, but I don’t want to be satisfied, because then I will be complacent, and complacency will lead to being average, and being average and mediocre is my greatest fear. So, celebrating leads me to mediocrity.” That’s the lie here that we want to dispel for you.

Courtney: Yeah. The truth here is celebration really allows you to stop, to reset, to be proud of whatever you’ve accomplished, and, again, it’s being able to pull off of those moments in the future. We’ve kind of talked about how celebration is really an energy source of being able to recognize how to use the successes you’ve had. We study failures or things that mess up a lot. We look at it and say, “What about my leadership got these results? How do we make sure this never happens again?”

We are really good at diving into failure and not having that happen again, but we’re not as great about looking at our successes and celebrating those in a way that says, “Okay. How do I replicate this? This is what I really want to replicate.” I feel like great football coaches are probably really good at doing this, like, “Okay. We won. How do we take the recipe for how we won and do that again next week?” That’s what I think this tool of celebrating helps you do.

Blake: Celebration can actually help shift our identity. Everything we do extends from our identity. (I know I’m going deep here.) The habits we have come from what we believe is true about ourselves. So, taking time to celebrate can actually change the story we tell ourselves about ourselves, and when we start to believe something different about us, our personality, our abilities, our identity, then further achievement is not just possible; it’s actually inevitable. An example… You mentioned football. My favorite football team (don’t come at me in the comments, everybody, unless you’re also a fan) is the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Courtney: I thought you were a Chicago Bears fan.

Blake: I am a Chicago Bears fan.

Courtney: Okay. So I wasn’t wrong.

Blake: As Buckeye fans will tell you, we’re everywhere. The Stratton family lineage goes through Columbus. I grew up in Chicago, but Lord knows, Northwestern, Illinois, were not going to get my attention as an 8-year-old. Sorry, Nick. Something the Buckeye coaches do is each position group, each different position player on the team… There are certain achievements they can achieve during a game. Whether they win or lose, there are personal achievements. When they achieve those things (like, let’s say it’s getting a sack on the quarterback), they get these stickers on their helmet.

Courtney: Stickers. Yeah, I’ve seen them.

Blake: So, you’ve seen these. Right? Other teams will do this. When you’re a player and it’s toward the end of the season, that’s when you have to show up big. You can’t be scared going into a championship game or a playoff game or something like that. So, as a player, when you pick up your helmet, it’s a different helmet, literally, than what you put on at the start of the year. You started the year with just this blank gray helmet.

So, imagine the defensive lineman putting on his helmet, and it’s just covered with stickers. It’s literally this physical reminder you’re putting on your head that you are powerful and you’ve achieved a lot. That’s the identity you have to carry in if you want to win the big game. So, when you think about pausing to celebrate, think about, “Listen. There are actually bigger victories ahead. It’s not going to make me complacent. It’s actually going to change my identity so I can conquer those bigger things that are totally in my future.”

Courtney: So good.

Blake: That’ll preach.

Courtney: That will preach. I feel like this is such a good episode. Again, Blake, you and I could probably spend another couple of episodes diving even deeper into these. But if you find yourself listening today and thinking, “Yeah, I’m like Courtney; I can sometimes fall into believing these lies” (maybe one, maybe two, maybe all three), how can you rebel and defeat them?

So, this week, when you’re capturing your wins (hopefully you’re doing that in your Full Focus Planner as part of your Weekly Preview), I want you to take the mindset that no win is too small for you to write down. It might be that one day this week you got up and did that 5:00 a.m. workout. That’s a win. Write it down. It doesn’t matter how small. Write it down.

The second thing is to go back to your Goal Detail page and think about fitting rewards into your goal. It’s really fun, guys, especially when you get to the end. Maybe you even forgot what the reward was, and you’re like, “Oh! I get that [X, Y, Z].” The next thing is to use your streak tracker. It helps you see and celebrate along the way to see the progress you’re making.

The last thing is if you’re really proud of something you’ve done, post about a recent win in the Full Focus Community. Again, guys, I love the Full Focus Community on Facebook. It is such an amazing group of people who will celebrate you. That’s a perfect place where you can take all the credit, and nobody is going to be like, “Oh my gosh. Blake is bragging again.” We’re just all here together. We’re pursuing big goals and dreams, and it’s a really wonderful place. So, hopefully, those are some things that will help you this week that are really tangible in helping you celebrate.

Blake: You do not have to be one of those high achievers who never slows down to celebrate. You can go farther and faster when you take a closer look at your beliefs about celebration and replace those lies with some truth. So, Courtney, let’s go celebrate another great episode of Focus on This. How about that?

Courtney: Let’s do that. I love that. Well, thanks, guys, for joining us on this episode of Focus on This. This is the most productive podcast on the Internet, so share it with your friends, and don’t forget to join us on the Full Focus Planner Community on Facebook. We’ll be back here next week with another great episode. Until then…

Both: Stay focused!