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This is my 100th Scout blog post! w00t!
While this is a drop in the bucket compared to some bloggers, it is a personal and business milestone for me, and one that I choose to recognise by offering these musings on the importance of recognising and celebrating milestones.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”
~ Ferris Bueller
Why you should recognise milestones
So you can see where you’ve come from
Personally, I take the Ferris Bueller approach to recognising and celebrating milestones.
Life moves so freaking fast.
And it’s really easy to forget what you’ve achieved, and how far you’ve come.
I find a lot of busy and driven people – especially small business owners and soloists – have very high expectations of themselves and are constantly raising the bar. So if you don’t make the effort to recognise what you have accomplished, it is easy to mistake this as never having achieved anything!
This might sound drastic, but if you are anything like me, you’ll know what I mean.
Recognising and celebrating milestones offers a sense of achievement and motivation to continue forging ahead.
And keep going.
So your team feels appreciated
Even if you aren’t a business owner, or work for or by yourself, it is still very important to recognise milestones.
Studies have shown that many employees prefer recognition and appreciation for a job well done than other perceived work “perks”, even cash ones! (well, some do).
Team members have many of the same habits and motivations that drive us independent workers, and if we don’t take the time to recognise what we have achieved as a team, everything can blur together into busy boringness.
Because other people are unlikely to do it for you
There is a lot going on in everyone’s lives.
We’re often too busy trying to keep up with our own that we’re not likely to recognise the achievements of others, without prompting.
Though in my experience, clients, suppliers, friends and family are more than happy to give you a pat on the back when prodded.
Australians, in particular, can find it difficult to stick our hand up and say: “Hey! Look what awesome thing we just did!”
Yet we are also really happy to say to those who do: “Wow! That’s awesome! Well done!”
“When people throw stones at you, turn them into milestones.”
~ Sachin Tendulkar
What types of milestones to acknowledge
While I am going to suggest some milestones worth celebrating here, I must stress that the most important thing is that they are your milestones…
If they don’t resonate with you, your team, your brand, they won’t feel worth celebrating, and won’t give you that warm fuzzy feeling of achievement and motivation to continue onwards.
Here are some suggestions of milestones worth celebrating:
- launch e.g. new business, product, service, book launch etc
- team/staff changes e.g. new team member, retiring or leaving team member, maternity leave or team member achievement
- new client
- new project
- completed project
- other significant events
Again, I stress that they need to be important to YOU and your team, your brand, and in some cases, your clients as well.
I recently saw a viral post on LinkedIn from a member criticising the platform for encouraging “work anniversary” congratulations, saying there is no such thing as a “work anniversary”.
While in some ways he is right, I personally like LinkedIn’s work anniversary updates.
It is a clever use and recognition of the data they have available.
According to a recent LinkedIn study: “Over the last 20 years, the number of companies people worked for in the five years after they graduated has nearly doubled.”
Given the frequency we are now anticipated to change jobs, I think it’s exciting to see and acknowledge someone who DOES stay in the same job for years!
But that’s me.
Try to plan ahead, but be prepared for unexpected milestones
It IS easier to acknowledge and celebrate milestones if you are looking ahead for them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t react quickly to the one you discover you have just achieved.
If you unexpectedly receive an award or find that you’ve stumbled across 10 years in business, there’s nothing wrong with responding swiftly to share the news.
Even if it’s late.
In these times of manufactured celebrity endorsements, there’s still a swag of people who love an honest, human “hey, guess what we just realised we did?” update.
How to celebrate milestones
Again, your method of celebrating should be relevant to you, your team, your brand, and the milestone itself, but…
Here are some suggestions for how to celebrate milestones:
- Host an event (internal with your team, external with clients, or public, perhaps even a virtual event online)
- Distribute team or client gifts (or buy yourself one if you’re a soloist)
- Add a feature to your website, e.g. homepage slider image
- Document your milestone in a blog post
- Send an email campaign to your subscribers alerting them of your milestone
- Share your milestone (or its celebration) through your social media channels
Be creative and have fun celebrating milestones
Personally, I’ve loved acknowledging and celebrating each year I’ve been in business for myself.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 60 percent of small businesses cease operating within the first three years of starting.
So I treasure each year that I am able to continue working for myself, and celebrate it in various ways.
For Scout’s third birthday, we created an infographic of the year’s achievements, and baked custom scout cookies to give to clients and suppliers.
And for Scout’s fourth birthday (in November 2016) I launched this revamped Scout website.
I also recently acknowledged and celebrated a client’s milestone by creating and gifting them a large jar of 1000 chocolates to recognise their achievement of 1000 followers on their LinkedIn company page.
And I was delighted to come across this range of Small Business Milestone cards! Available both as hard copies and digital downloads for your own printing.
Milestone celebrations don’t always have to be BIG things though, sometimes less is more.
I know an agency that rings a bell in their building every time a new piece of work is won.
It quickly communicates the news to the entire team who all join in the swift celebration then continue on with whatever they were doing.
Share why the milestone is important
While I have focused on celebrating milestones as from a motivational perspective, it serves a valuable opportunity to educate your clients and potential clients, as well as communicating a point of difference with your competitors.
This might not be possible for every milestone, but where you can, demonstrate the benefit to your audience, rather than just tooting your own trumpet.
- Winning an award means industry or public recognition for having done great work (presumably for your clients)
- Achieving a certification or qualification means demonstrating skills that you can use to do even better work for your clients
- Being in business or staying in the same job for a period of time means that you’re doing something really well! (usually)
Google does this well with the phrasing they offer their Adwords Certified professionals:
“Google has recognized me as an AdWords certified professional, meaning that I’ve passed multiple exams that assess my product expertise. I’m qualified to help you grow your business on the web using Google AdWords.”
(By the way, I am Google Adwords and Google Analytics certified).
So as you can see, there are many ways that you can have fun, and be creative with celebrating milestones.
And in my experience, it is often these fun, quirky ways of recognising even the smallest milestone that gives the most joy and has the greatest impact.
I’ll be celebrating this milestone (100th blog post) with a glass of bubbles, and the joy of writing and sharing this post!
What milestones do you like to celebrate and how? Let me know in the comments…
“Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.”
~ Nelson Mandela