Celebrating the small victories of an ordinary workday

In life, it’s the little moments that add up to the big ones. The small wins become the larger ones.

So almost two years ago, I decided to buy an oversized champagne glass for my office. For months and months, my colleagues and I have worked together to fill it with small victories.

We named it our “small victory glass,” and whenever we had a success, we scribbled it on a piece of paper and threw it into the glass.

Big wins are usually celebrated enough on their own, but the little ones rarely get their moment in the spotlight. This gave us a way to remember those smaller successes, and we embraced it. If you had looked through the glass, you’d find printed emails, wildly successful Instagram photos, a powerful story, a meeting that led to a breakthrough, a phone call that started badly and ended with agreement, a spur-of-the-moment idea that saved hours of work.

During the past couple years, we’ve filled the glass a few times over. Each time it’s been full to the top, I’ve emptied it, and we’ve read through the victories, marveling at some of the successes we’ve come to take for granted. More than a few, as it turns out, seemed small at the time, but they have had a lasting impact.

At the start of the New Year, I felt the time had come to share the small victory glass with our whole larger team. So I moved it out of my office and into our shared space. I introduced it to the whole group at our first group meeting of the year, and my colleagues started filling it immediately with bits of paper listing their own victories.

Then last week, the glass somehow got knocked to the floor and smashed into pieces. It was beyond saving.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have moved the small victory glass, which had stood proudly and safely for so long in my office. But somehow I think we probably need one more than ever. If you can’t overcome a shattered small victory glass, are you really ready to take on the challenges of the workday?

So I’m seeking a replacement. Daniel and I did some hunting for one this weekend, but we couldn’t find one that was right. I will know it when I see it, just as I did with the first glass.

And so we will wait. The timing has to be right. And you don’t want to pick the wrong container for small victories. After all, the little wins are too important to place in just any spot. They matter too much.

“Very humble work, that is where you and I must be,” said Saint Teresa of Calcutta. “For there are many people who can do big things. But there are very few people who will do the small things.”

Whatever challenges you encounter today, I hope you’ll have a small victory—and find a way to celebrate it.

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.