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Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and Netflix films. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, BBC, and NPR.

Small Losses

We all agree it’s important to celebrate the tiny victories.

You worked out yesterday.
You ate a healthy lunch today.
You’ll phone someone you love tomorrow.

hooray! Tiny triumphs are worthy of lowercase praise. We needn’t wait until the the full-body transformation, the championship title, or the next major accomplishment to acknowledge our progress.

In fact, waiting till something miraculous happens marginalizes our small wins, which leads to fewer favorable results going forward, until eventually the whole thing collapses under the weight of a million micro-indiscretions.

True, that buzzer-beating three-pointer might’ve won the big game, but so did every practice session and scrimmage game and four-foot bank shot in the first quarter.

Flip the coin, though, and we realize the opposite is also true: it’s equally important to acknowledge our small losses.

You skipped the gym this morning.
You ate leftover chocolate cake this afternoon.
You’ll ignore your spouse when he’s talking tonight.

shame! We must reflect on our minute infractions and misbehaviors with lowercase scorn. No, we needn’t dwell on our missteps—we need only concede that we tripped a bit. And then carry that lesson forward.

You see, we are all amalgams of our small wins and our small losses. Therefore, each giant victory is a product of every small loss we avoid. What matters, then, is what we do between our most recent loss and the next small victory.

Hat tip to Bex for our small-losses conversation a few months back.