Sometimes You Just Need a Win – Here’s How You Get It

by Alli Polin on February 13, 2018

The competition was high, and I wasn’t feeling lucky. A rousing game of Exploding Kittens was nearing its conclusion, and then it happened. My husband got a steal, reached into my hand, and put his fingers on the card that I needed to stay in the game. What happened next shocked everyone at the table. 

I pulled my cards back and said, “No. Please. I had the worst day. I need a win.”

He laughed and reached again, going for the same card. (In all fairness, he thought I cheated and moved the card while my hand was under the table. I didn’t.)

I said it a little louder and quite frankly, crazier, “I need a win. No way. Pick. Another. Card.”

The third time he went for another card, which was a good one by the way, and we moved on from my moment of poor sportsmanship and temporary insanity. 

The fact that he left the card in my hand wasn’t the clincher, but I did happen to win the overall game. I’ll say it was my stellar strategy, but it was likely luck.

What I do know is that in that moment, I needed that card no matter how irrational it seemed. Sometimes you just need a small win even if it’s not the big win of winning the entire game. Just a moment where you can breathe and remind yourself, “Things will be okay after all.”

Yes, I had a lousy, stressful, don’t ever want to repeat it kind of day and somehow holding on to that one tiny thing (my card) was a sign that I was back on track. Have you been there too? Maybe not with Exploding Kittens, but wanting that one little thing to go your way as a sign from the universe that the bigger stuff will eventually go your way again too?

There are days you just need a win. Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, there are things you can do to help the universe along. No need for your good juju, or ESP to go into overdrive when you can take action. 

Five Things You Can Do When You Just Need a Win

Be honest and ask for what you need. 

I’m not suggesting that you complain and moan in an entitled whiny voice and ask for what you need but instead, do it with confidence. If this one thing will make a huge difference and have a meaningful impact, ask for it. What’s the worst that can happen? You get a “no.”

It’s like when you go to the counter at a restaurant to order from their glass case of ready-made items. You really want the sandwich in the front of the case, but they go to grab the one from the back. Be clear, ask calmly and kindly too; you may get it. 


You got to learn to see wins no matter how small. Stop waiting for the big kahuna. 

Often, we overlook the small wins that pile up all day because we have our eye on the destination. Your end goal isn’t meant to obscure your vision or joy of the day-to-day. 

Stop for a second and ask yourself what wins you may have missed. Sometimes you have to look at a more granular level than you’d like but they’re there.

Keep going. Stumbles are not the same as stops. 

You may think to yourself that if you don’t get this win, this one thing, all is lost. It’s not true. I know I held onto my card earlier as if it was true, but it’s not. So you don’t get this win? It’s okay. When you keep going, the next one does come. I promise. 

Get your win on another path.

My bad day had nothing to do with losing at Exploding Kittens, but that’s where my desire manifested itself. You can create small wins in your day by going to the gym, getting some writing done, calling an old friend who you’ve been putting off calling unit you find the time, cooking a favorite meal, you name it.

If you are aching for a win at work and it’s not happening, you still need to feed your wellbeing. When you go into the darkest of dark places and cut yourself off from everything, that’s when the wins start to fade away. 

Go to sleep.

I know what it’s like when you need a win so badly that you feel it in every bone in your body. I’ve been there, knocked down, and you know what? I couldn’t see the wins even if they waved a white flag in front of my face. I needed sleep to rest and recover and gain a fresh perspective. You do too.


When you just need a win, make it happen. It may not be the one you wanted, the one that will magically be like a rocket to the land of success, but a win is a win – take it. 

What do you do when you just need a win?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ February 13, 2018 at 7:46 am

Oh Alli I love this post. It has the spirit of forward motion, the detail steps that give clarify, and the strength of your years of experience behind it.



Alli Polin February 13, 2018 at 7:57 am

Thanks so much, Kate! No need to sit around waiting for something to happen when we can make something good happen.



Blair Glaser February 13, 2018 at 8:35 am

Sorry it was a bad day! Thanks for this funny and encouraging post, and for modeling asking for what you need even when it may seem insignificant and small . . . and for the reminder, “Stumbles are Not Stops.”


Alli Polin February 13, 2018 at 8:41 pm

Thanks, Blair! Asking for what you need is something that intimidates far too many people. It can feel scary in the moment but it’s worth the discomfort to get the answer.

I appreciate you. You’ve helped me see many of my wins that I was blind to over the years.



Gary Gruber February 13, 2018 at 9:00 am

You always elicit such good thoughts with your personal and often poignant posts. I believe you know that you are a winner and there are times when winners lose. And what do they do? Exactly what you said, they keep going. I don’t know who said it originally but it applies, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
In the end, for those of us trained up in sports, it’s not whether we win or lose but how we played the game. And yes, a win definitely feels better than a loss. It’s why we work hard to achieve a win-win situation.


Alli Polin February 13, 2018 at 8:42 pm

There are times when winners lose. Aha. What an important thing to remember. It’s like when I tell people you may have lost but you’re not a loser. It’s not who you are, it’s an event.

Right there with ya!

Big thanks!



Terri Klass February 13, 2018 at 10:58 am

I could just visualize your words and face during the card game. Small wins are so important to each of us because they always build up to a stronger finish. I feel your agony here and I’ve been there too. Like you I try to see what I have accomplished that day and focus on that. It’s ok for my win to be tiny as long as I can put a smile on my face and remind myself it’s part of a bigger picture which can take time.


Alli Polin February 13, 2018 at 8:44 pm

I love that part of the way you gauge your win is if it puts a smile on your face. That’s a big part of it – feeling that breathing room, the flicker of success to keep us moving forward.




John Bennett February 13, 2018 at 1:20 pm

Super advice as always!!! I’ll take this opportunity to add one more option:

Stop trying to win (get what you need at that point – better times in a competition, better readership for your blog posts, another consulting contract, …) and consciously Consider WHY you not moving toward a win!!!

All too often, we are blinded to the current roadblock because we are frantically trying “everything” we can to move forward.


Alli Polin February 13, 2018 at 8:45 pm

Great point, John. We may feel the urge to win something, but until we understand our motivation we lack purpose and focus. Flailing may result in something accidentally good happening, but more often than not it’s a losing strategy.




LaRae Quy February 13, 2018 at 11:41 pm

Thank you for giving your readers permission to savor the small wins in life, to keep going when you stumble, find another path, and to sleep on it. I love the positivity with which you encourage everyone to approach those “less than perfect days” because guess what? They’re going to happen! I’ll share on my social media platform…have an awesome week!


Alli Polin February 14, 2018 at 2:40 am

Thanks, LaRae! Can’t stop the bad days but we can make them better…



Melissa Reyes February 15, 2018 at 7:53 pm

I love this! I’d like to reference it when I do my Clarity and Wellness Worshop and Vision Board Party next month. So many great reminders. My favorite…sleep on it! ThTs a win for me!


Alli Polin February 16, 2018 at 2:19 am

Thanks a ton, Melissa! Your feedback means a ton to me. Sleep on it is a reminder I need time and time again too. It works! 🙂



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