Savor: To appreciate fully; enjoy or relish. (verb)
Before I finished the first draft of my first novel, I envisioned celebrating its completion. So once I’d typed the last sentence and wiped a few happy tears, I plotted something new—a “novel-tea” party with artist friends. We chatted about our progress, goals and dreams, ate my mom’s awesome Indian food and made crafty “things” based on our projects. I knew I still had significant work to do, but as many of you know, reaching ‘the end’ on a manuscript is no simple feat. I wanted to dance around in the glee of what doing so represented, including what could happen next. Sharing that glee with others and celebrating their work magnified it—such a treat!
As I look back at some the cool things that have happened in the year-and-a-half since, from signing with my agent to finishing a major revision I’m stoked about, I can’t help but wonder if savoring every step is, well…vital. So I did a bit of investigating, and guess what. Savoring is practically a super power! And even cooler than I’d thought.
Savoring may not be as important as working our butts off, sitting down to the proverbial grunt work, but it is important. And research shows that it not only makes for a more enjoyable experience, but boosts our chance of success.
Psychologist and researcher Fred B. Bryant has studied the art of savoring for decades. In his book, Savoring, A New Model of Positive Experience, he says we can savor in three time frames: reminiscing, enjoying the present and anticipating the future. Apparently most of us have a far easier time savoring the past than the present and future. (We’re more likely to get excited about a book launch, for example, than revising or starting our next.)
If we don’t embrace what lies ahead, we’re less likely to move forward. Savoring the past, present and future, on the other hand, breeds success. (I’m not talking about financial success, though that can be a sweet reward.) Savoring also promotes happiness, which is associated with everything from boosted creativity and physical health to attractiveness. Awesome, right???
Five Ways to Savor More (& Boost Our Chance of Success)
1. Focus on the positive. We writers can be tough on ourselves. (No, seriously! ;)) While it’s natural to want to push ourselves, hoping for more and better, viewing pages as half empty instead of full won’t help much. Rather than think or complain about the words and pages you didn’t write this week, consider the words and pages you did. When you feel Grumpy Smurf, make like Sunshine Smurf: ponder the good stuff. (Trust me, there’s lots.)
2. Don’t fixate on “the numbers.” From blog stats and word counts to Klout scores and book sales, the modern world makes it way too easy to obsess over our numeric rank. But they are just numbers. I’d personally rather write an awesome quality page than five flat ones (not that the flat aren’t beneficial ;)). I’d also rather have quality connections with writers and readers than thousands of “hits” that mean little. Numbers can be useful tools, if we keep them in perspective and focus more on what really counts.
3. Recognize and celebrate. When you reach a milestone, whether it be committing yourself to writing or completing your first or five-hundreth draft, savor it—on purpose. One of the best ways to do so, says Bryant, is by savoring with others. Chat about your success, including the future coolness it’ll bring, with friends. Share it on on your blog or Facebook. Or take a more private route by purchasing a new outfit, playing hooky from work or spending an afternoon at the spa.
4. Hang on to reminders. Why do you write? What accomplishments are you proud of so far? What are you striving toward next? Keeping visible reminders—meaningful photos, positive reviews, awards—nearby can help keep us on-track, while keeping our inner-naysayers at bay.
5. Congratulate yourself. This is a tough one, but Bryant recommends self-congratulations as an ultra-useful tool. And don’t worry. Unless you are a narcissist, morphing into an egomaniac is highly unlikely. Storing positive feelings about achievement, he says, strengthens our abilities to savor and cheer ourselves up in the future. Even short, silent praise works—i.e., in our heads or typed into a journal. To balance any “braggy” feelings out, follow self-congratulations with gratitude—another useful savoring tool.
How do you savor your successes? What step are you most stoked about lately?