Celebrating Small Wins

Happy 2020, everybody! It’s that time of year for reflecting on the past and setting new goals for the future! Actually, it’s a week or so past that time, I think I’m a bit behind…

Of course, we can and should reflect and set goals whenever we want to. It doesn’t have to be just at the start of a new year. But it is “new year’s resolutions” time, and for me, the turning over from one year to the next coincides with my institution’s annual performance review cycle. A month ago, I was looking back on 2019, wrapping up my professional goals for the year, and thinking about my accomplishments; and now I’m in the midst of thinking about 2020 goals. In this context, goals tend to be pretty substantial – they’re the kind of goals that will drive and sustain my work throughout the next 12 months, and should make significant contributions to departmental and institutional priorities.

Because that kind of goal-setting can be daunting, I want to take a step back and talk about different kinds of goals and accomplishments: the small wins.

I’ve been returning to this idea occasionally ever since the Open Textbook Network Summit back in July, where we did a group activity to celebrate and share our small wins. With open textbooks and open educational resources (OER), there are lots of big wins and small wins to be had, but we often don’t talk enough about the small wins. I really appreciated that we took the time at the OTN Summit to think about this and recognize the fact that you don’t have to have a “big huge amazing success” to have a success worth celebrating.


I think small wins can be harder to articulate than the big ones. They’re things that don’t always get recognition, that others may not see happening, and that you may not even notice yourself. Small wins can have a tangible outcome, but they can also be small actions or attitudes that contribute to yours and others’ success.

At the OTN Summit, I talked about involving subject liaison librarians in OER work. Sometimes that means collaborating on a short-term project to assist a faculty member, and other times it means simply sharing information to keep liaisons informed around OER. I’m not perfect about doing this all the time, but I think I do a pretty good job of it and I’m seeing that work pay off in small ways.

A few other small wins I’ve had in the past year, or hope to have in 2020…

  • I put time and effort into preparation. I’m not the kind of person who can “wing it” for most things, and knowing this and planning for it makes a huge difference.
  • I want to make more time for reflection. It doesn’t have to be a big thing or on a regular schedule – for me it would be a win to do this just every now and then.
  • I think I’ve gotten better at time management and prioritization in the past year, and I definitely want to keep improving (saying “no” to a new opportunity counts as a win here).

This short list was hard for me to come up with! Do you have any #SmallWins to share?

Photo by Liudmyla Denysiuk on Unsplash

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