Right now, before you read this post, take a second and think back to last year. Off the top of your head, what are five things you accomplished that brought value to the company and made you feel proud?
Seriously, take a minute.
For myself, I honestly can’t think of a single thing. In retrospect, last year seems like a mess of setbacks, false starts, and stuff that’s been dragging on way too long. All I can remember are the mistakes I made, the things I should have done differently, and the awesome stuff I designed that never got built.
At least, that’s how I was thinking until I rediscovered an Evernote file I’d been keeping. Until about August, I’d been writing down my accomplishments as they happened. Wouldn’t you know it, there was a bunch of great stuff there that I’d completely forgotten about! Like the plan commit workshops I ran for the whole endpoint team and a usability testing brown bag session.
Accomplishments are intermittent and wonderful things. But our successes are too easily swallowed up by the daily grind of crises and compromises. As a high achiever, you’re already prone to dwelling on your failures and minimizing your successes. Add to that the fact that success dims with time and you’re likely to reach the end of the year with a sense that you’ve got nothing to show for it.
This is why you need to write down your accomplishments as they happen.
It’s hard enough to remember last year, never mind the last three years—or, god forbid, ten years. But isn’t that what we always do? The only time we think about accomplishments is when we’re dusting off our resume in anticipation of a new job search. Suddenly you’re racking your brain trying to think of what you’ve been doing for the last few years and coming up with maybe three or four things. Yet, if you’d been writing them down all that time, you’d have thirty or forty to choose from.
The solution is simple. Start a file today and write down everything you’ve accomplished since the beginning of the year. Then set a calendar reminder every two months to update it.
Your future self will thank you.