Don't celebrate until it's official. Until the ink has dried on the signature. Until the money has deposited into your account.
There are so many phrases, so many pieces of advice, that belabor this idea to not celebrate too early. It has become so ingrained in us that we start acting really weird when good news is right around the corner. We start saying things like "don't jinx it" or "knock on wood." We become extra humble as if our fate--like a prison sentence--hinges on our good behavior. If we even think about pumping our fist in an early celebration, we hear a booming voice from the heavens reminding us: pride goeth before the fall.
For 28-years I've just accepted this, never asking why this is the established norm. But a couple of weeks ago, right as I was daring to celebrate a little too early, and thus getting ready to correct myself with some sort of "it's not official yet" statement, I thought, "You know what, no, I'm going to keep on celebrating."
Why wait? Why pop the balloons? Why can't we enjoy a little piece of happiness along the way?
Because think about the reverse. Think about how much we let ourselves experience negative emotions when it's potentially bad news. We imagine the plane crashing. The presentation going horribly. Our loved ones getting into an accident. We allow ourselves to experience deep levels of anxiety and grief all in the name of good ol fashion worry and fear. Totally normal, totally fair game to experience the worst emotions before the bad thing happens; if it ever happens at all.
Worry, anxiety, and fear are like "celebrating" bad news before it's official. The balloons are just shaped like dark storm clouds.
But heaven forbid you try it the other way around; letting yourself feel all of the good stuff too soon. Don't even think about doing a touchdown dance in the first quarter.
My dad made a really good point about why this sentiment might have stuck with us. He thinks part of it is because we're so used to movies where they show a happy group of people hopping into a car, they're singing, dancing, and as an audience you know that yep, this is when the semi-truck blindsides them.
Or the main character is having the best day ever, just got a promotion at work, which of course means the phone call later that evening is going to be news that their mom or dad passed away.
Go ahead and re-watch Remember the Titans. That movie is the best example I've ever seen of bad news immediately following the happiest moments. There's always a valley right after the peak.
This seems to be how things are in life and we have to accept it.
But here for a second let's imagine a different approach. Imagine a scenario where you celebrate each step of the way. If it's a money thing, daydream about what you'll do with that upcoming cash infusion. Maybe even buy a couple things on credit before the money has deposited. If it's a new job, start writing drafts of your triumphant Facebook announcement. If it's a new house, drink the biggest margarita of your life the night you put in an offer. Don't let the "yeah but" part of the brain tell you that this is not allowed until you actually win the offer.
Then, even if the worst case scenario happens, let's say whatever the good thing is falls apart right at the last second, you still were able to have multiple celebrations. You still had weeks/months of pure happiness. And, in the end, yeah it sucks that it didn't pan out, but you're not beating yourself up over not knocking on wood, stepping on a sidewalk crack, or whatever other walking on eggshells excuse can pop up in the "don't celebrate too early" mindset.
If we continue to live in the earlier mindset, the worst case scenario becomes this duck-duck-goose game of average day-average day-really bad day. Even in the best case scenario, we risk that signature moment being a little bit of a letdown. We put the "official" moment way too high on a pedestal. I waited all this time to experience this? I'm not even that happy!
I wonder if joy is like a habit and, if we're not practicing it, we get out of "happiness" shape.
It's also a risky move to wait for the "official" moment, because you're banking on that day being perfect in every other area of life. But way too often, you get the bonus on the same day your car needs a $2,000 repair.
In this new Medium Rare approach, one where you "celebrate before the signature," it should look like the person in the office who is booking a really nice dinner reservation. They've got the moment of celebration when they book the time over the phone. The mini-celebrations when people ask about their dinner plans and they confidently say, "I'm going HERE" and people ooh and ahh. The celebration of getting dressed up, splurging for the regular Uber vs. an Uber Pool. The wine, the appetizers, the main course. The dessert that the waiter lights on fire. The Monday back at work talking about the dinner, answering the, "How was it?" questions like they were a member of the Golden State Warriors addressing the media, champagne goggles still on.
It's hard to tell where the one specific moment of celebration is because everything leading up to and after the big event kept the party going.
So, celebrate when it's unofficial. Before the ink has dried on the signature. Before the money has deposited into your account. Worst case scenario it's a letdown, but I think it's better to come down than to never be looking up.
Two more posts coming here in June, the one on Monday will be a really special one as Medium Rare celebrates it's 200th post (woo-hoo!). And then a little change in plans, I have decided to not take the month of July off. Instead, I'll be switching to one post a week (on Mondays) for July and August and then taking September off.
To catch up on previous posts, here are the most recent four
Or, if you're really fired up and want to read more than a 1,000 word blog, hey, that's awesome! Here are a few longer works available for sale on Amazon:
Toilet Bowl - A novel about love, worry, and urinal cakes.
Medium Rare - Where this Medium Rare journey began, published way back in 2012.
Moving Sucks - Just in time for moving season!
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