Howe watched Cherries bring down the curtain on a memorable home campaign with an emphatic 4-1 win over Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
And while victory guaranteed Cherries a top-half finish, their slim chances of reaching the play-offs had been effectively ended by Brighton’s win over Yeovil on Friday.
Howe said: “We knew before the game it was over for us in terms of the top six but it was important we didn’t let that affect us and were motivated to try to win in front of a sell-out crowd. I felt we put on a really good show in our last home game.
“I don’t think there was a feeling of huge disappointment because it wasn’t as if we had been in the top six and had dropped out, which sometimes can be the case. Hopefully, we have built momentum in the second half of the season and can take that into the early stages of next season.
“We don’t want to be complacent. We want to look back and think of it as a good job this season and want to improve next season.
“I think we are surprised by how well we have done but not surprised at some of the performances. The speed with which we have improved is probably the biggest thing, especially during the second half of the season. There have been some outstanding performances, we have really dominated some good teams and that is probably the only surprise.
“Some of the football we have played in the recent home games has been a huge highlight for me. The players have been excellent and deserve full credit for putting that into action. Going into the season, people didn’t expect a lot from us and I think people are now talking about us so that is testament to the players and what they have done.”
Although Cherries’ goal difference took a hammering following early-season defeats at Watford and Huddersfield, Howe said he felt there had been “reasons for it”.
He added: “There was an understanding that we were developing and adjusting to the level. We probably chased games a little too early at times and suffered a couple of heavy defeats. But take them out of the equation and our goal difference would look totally different so we were aware of those weaknesses early on.
“We are always a team that goes out to win games. We are not a negative team. We chase games trying to win them and I would never change that style.”