Warning: I’m about to pat myself on the back in the next paragraph, but bear with me—I promise I’m going somewhere with this.

On Tuesday, I finished taking a course at the university where I work. It was a statistics course—linear regression, specifically—and it was one of the hardest classes I’ve ever taken (grad school included). The concepts were abstract and the problems knotty, demanding a high level of focus and lots of time. With a full-time job, a family, and sundry other commitments, I completed most of the coursework at lunch, in the evenings, and on the weekends (while my saintly wife Sarah picked up some of my share of the housework). It was a legitimately hard course, it was far outside of my comfort zone, and I did well.

Okay, thanks for your patience. Here’s my point.

When we accomplish something we’ve worked hard for over a long period of time, we want to celebrate our victory. At least, part of us wants to celebrate. Another part says, “Celebrate? You’ve got to be kidding. You’re far too busy, and besides, you were just doing what you were supposed to be doing. Get back to work.”

Don’t listen to this voice.

Toasting a job well done is a big part of maintaining long-term motivation (not to mention a balanced life). Skipping the celebration, on the other hand, costs us in the long run, as some part of our mind begins to ask, “Why am I working so hard for no recognition?” Eventually, we burn out.

When you achieve something difficult, even if it’s just one step toward a larger goal, pat yourself (and your support network) on the back. In doing so, you’ll help ensure motivation for the next challenge. Celebrating isn’t extra—it’s part of the achievement process.

Oh, and we’re going out for pizza.