35 | Does This Kill Your Creative Momentum Too?

What is your biggest momentum killer when it comes to making a change, launching a project, or embarking on a meaningful pursuit?

If you’re anything like me, it might be…a lack of celebration.

In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, we explore the importance of celebrating success and how intrinsic it is to momentum in almost any endeavour.

By success, I don’t mean external rewards and appearances. I’m talking about moments of “shine” that occur in the immediate wake of a good thing happening. And celebration, in this context, is a simple physical acknowledgement in response to that feeling.

Last week, Blubrry (the hosting company for The Gentle Rebel Podcast) published a feature, naming it Podcast of the Month for September 2023. Exciting! This is one of the reasons I’ve been thinking about celebration and momentum.

After feeling a spark of joy, my inner critic (yep, Rod was back) piped up with reasons not to get excited. So, I’ve been experimenting with ways to playfully subvert his and Pincher’s (another one – that’s him in the photo) judgements and demands so I can allow the momentum to flow.

The Moment Finds Meaning in Momentum

We might think of momentum as a series of moments linked together in the same direction. The mmmmmm between moments is the gluey bridge of satisfaction that connects them. Moment-mmmmm-moment-mmmmm. OK, please humour me.

This is to say that celebrating small moments is integral to growth through momentum. Without it, we might end up in a state of moment-aghhhh, where moments are isolated and disconnected rather than united and connected.

But what does a celebration look like? It sounds a bit strange.

The Concept of “Shine”:

What do you do to celebrate when you manage to turn an intention into an action?

With no word in English for the feeling he wanted to describe (“authentic pride” didn’t capture it), BJ Fogg coined the term “shine“. In Tiny Habits, he explains how important it is to celebrate when we do behaviours that contribute to the habits we want to establish. Celebration rewrites our neural pathways, associating feeling good with doing what we want.

This is an excellent example of moment-mmmm because each momentary action, when celebrated, reinforces the chance of the next one occurring. So celebration and momentum go hand-in-hand.

Ranking and Linking

Elaine Aron talks about linking and ranking as two models for interpersonal engagement. When in “ranking mode”, we measure our value by comparing ourselves to others. This tends to happen more when we perceive that we have suffered a “defeat” or failure.

Aron writes, “After a defeat, research finds that all social animals become depressed, showing the same physiology and behavior as depressed humans have. If we could ask them, I’m sure their self-esteem would be low. Unrealistically low. “I’m no good at all.” This innate “involuntary defeat response” serves to keep a defeated animal from continuing to fight and probably being injured.

These instincts work the same for us. Following a defeat, we tend to undervalue ourselves, leading to endless lost opportunities.”

As we apply this, we might see how momentum is lost when we lose connection by not acknowledging meaningful moments. Or worse, by focusing on our perceived failures amidst things going well – through overthinking, second-guessing, and assuming meaning (that isn’t explicit) in other peoples’ words and actions.

Aron says, “Life is not all about ranking. We spend as much time liking and loving each other. Mostly, however, when we are focused on rank, we are not feeling loving, and vice versa. So the easiest solution to undervaluing yourself is to get out of ranking mode altogether for a while: Focus on the people you like and whom you know like you. Switch instincts.”

But how do we switch instincts and find a sense of connection and safety? It’s not easy.


One helpful practice is noticing glimmers.

In her book Anchored, Deb Dana talks about noticing and collecting glimmers to anchor in safety and connection. And this ultimately opens our eyes, minds, and hearts to celebrate when good things happen. This idea opens us up to see MORE things worth celebrating.

She points out that “Humans have a built-in negativity bias. In order to support our survival, we’re wired to respond more intensely to negative experiences than equally intense positive ones. We have to actively look for, take notice of, and keep track of these moments, or micro-moments, of safety and connection that are our glimmers.”

This is not dissimilar to BJ Fogg’s notion of shine. Glimmers are “anchors that take us upwards and back to a foundation of strengthened regulation.

They are small things. When we are open to spot them, we see them everywhere in daily life.

Glimmers can be predictable anchors in our routine (coffee, fresh air, etc.) and can come in unexpected moments that appear on your path.”

Setting a Glimmer Intention:

Dana suggests setting a glimmer intention.

She writes, “I have a friend who made an intention to see one glimmer a day for a week and another whose intention was to look for a glimmer to begin her day.

Play with this intention. Set it. Write it down. Read it back. For example, I will start each day this week looking for a glimmer. I will step outside every morning and find a glimmer.”

Keep a record of glimmers. This allows you to create a predictable practice you can return to.

We’ve been doing this in The Haven. Sharing glimmers as we notice them. Seeing how other people see and celebrate the world has been encouraging and inspiring.

Where are you that you wanted to be?

Life might not have turned out how you hoped or planned. But I bet there is something true of your life right now that you of 5 years ago would be pretty excited about or intrigued by. Or maybe you set a goal, and it’s happened. Did you notice? Did you stop to celebrate? Or did it pass you by as you moved on to the next one?

Over to You

I’d love to know what resonated for you in this episode. And to see pictures of your Pincher if you have one. Leave a comment, message, or get in touch via social media. And please do share this episode with anyone you think will enjoy it!

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