Recently I discovered something so key to my personality that I wish I knew it decades ago: I like to celebrate.

Yeah, so does everyone else, I’m sure. But for one of the stodgiest, most serious, quietest, hermit-like people in the world (that would be me), this desire to celebrate came as a revelation.

I gave a screenwriting workshop along with a friend back in March. During the planning, she made sure we planned a party afterward, as part of the workshop. I thought it was silly, to be honest, but I went along with it. Then a strange thing happened. As I planned the workshop, I started looking forward to the party afterward more than the workshop itself. I kept repeating the mantra of my friend: “No matter what happens, we’re still celebrating when this is over.” And we did. The workshop was a grand success, and even though we thought we were too tired afterward to do anything fun, we made ourselves celebrate. We ate good food and drank good wine and partied with good friends, and it was amazing.

Instead of going home alone and reliving every mistake I made during the night, I got to be with people who talked about all the great things we did. I felt like a superstar.

Fast forward to April. I finished a screenplay, a project requiring many hours of grueling hard work (most of it just trying to make myself sit down and write the damn thing). I started in January. I finished on the last day of April. And I fully planned to go home alone and feel ambivalent and depressed about it. I know the writing needs work. I know the story has holes. How can a rough draft be something worth celebrating?

Thanks to my good friend, I didn’t have a choice. She dragged me downtown to a shopping event (okay, I went willingly) and we bought matching cards to commemorate our successes (she wrote a screenplay too. She finished hers first). And just to make sure we did it right, there was actually free champagne at one of the stores. We met friends there. We all toasted to finishing, to meeting goals and destroying them. We celebrated!

What did I learn from all this? I learned that I accomplished something grand and it was worth celebrating. How different that is from feeling ashamed of a mere rough draft and wanting to hide away! I wrote the first draft of a 112-page screenplay and that is a BIG DEAL. Now that I know what it feels like to celebrate, how different it is from sinking into that anti-climactic ambivalence, I will never go back to my old ways.

And guess what? I’m looking forward to the next celebration so much that I’m working harder than ever. I’m even excited to tackle the rough draft of that screenplay and make it something better – something worth a big party, even.

What was the last thing you did that was worth celebrating? How did you celebrate? I hope you’ll take the time to find joy in your next accomplishment – you may find it makes all the difference in the world.