On a semi-regular basis, I do some childminding for a lovely family, and this week, the younger girl (aged eight) brought home a â€œCongratulationsâ€ certificate from school.
This got me thinking about our achievements as adults. When did someone last give you a certificate to say â€œwell doneâ€, â€œcongratulationsâ€ or â€œgreat jobâ€? Has anyone even said those words to you recently?
Sometimes, itâ€™s easy to feel that our hard work goes unnoticed â€“ maybe by our employers, teachers or relatives. Perhaps you stayed late every night to ensure the success of a tricky project at work, and no-one seemed to care. Or youâ€™ve reached a thousand subscribers on your blog, but your spouse canâ€™t see what youâ€™re so excited about.
The even deeper trap, though, is not so much that other people donâ€™t recognize and acknowledge our achievements, but that we ourselves donâ€™t. Iâ€™m someone who likes instant results; Iâ€™m not patient and I tend to struggle to maintain enthusiasm throughout a long project or when working towards a distant goal. Because of this, Iâ€™ve started consciously recording and celebrating my achievements, so that I realize that my hard work is paying off and that I am making progress.
Why Do It? Thoughts After Ten Months of Achievements
Since January, Iâ€™ve been keeping up a very simple practice of spending ten minutes, once a month, thinking about and writing down what Iâ€™ve achieved. So if you think that recording your achievements is too much hassle, you might want to reconsider; however busy you are, ten minutes a month isnâ€™t going to impinge much on your schedule.
In the past ten months, life has changed a lot for me, and one of the benefits of recording my achievements is that I can see how far Iâ€™ve come since January. For example, back in January, the sum total of my blogging achievement was:
- Launched weblog [The Office Diet] on Jan 1st
- Guest post on Diet Blog on Jan 16th
Fast-forward through the book, and achievements like these appear:
- Staff writing position on Diet Blog (February)
- Wrote guest posts for several big blogs: Ririan Project, Pick the Brain, Dumb Little Man, Cranky Fitness (May)
- Became a staff blogger for Pick the Brain and Dumb Little Man (August)
Building up my fledgling blogging career has been a priority for me this year, and itâ€™s encouraging to see that Iâ€™ve come a long way since that first guest post in January: this month, I have enough staff blogging work to pay all my rent and bills. I know that when I start on other long-term goals in the future, Iâ€™ll be able to trace a similar pattern of progress, celebrating the small victories to begin with, then seeing myself build on those.
Another benefit that I found through the tougher early months was that writing down my achievements at the end of each month helped me to focus on the areas where I was improving and getting somewhere. Sometimes I had to scrape a bit for things to record, but it helped me get through some difficult months.
How to Create Your Achievements Record
I have a small leather-bound notebook, given to me for Christmas last year, in which I devote a page a month to my achievements list. This suits me well; it doesnâ€™t take much time, but it provides a permanent record which I intend to keep adding to over the next decade (the notebook has plenty of pages!)
Something Iâ€™m considering for the future, though, is also having a scrapbook or folder for achievements. This might be a good form of record if your achievements are in the form of news clippings or printed magazine pieces, pieces of artwork, or photographs.
You donâ€™t necessarily have to use words in your record. If youâ€™re tracking your progress towards a fitter, healthier body, for instance, your achievements record could take the form of monthly photographs and measurements.
Donâ€™t Forget to Celebrate: Pick Some Rewards
Something which I intend to start doing more is to pick rewards for reaching milestones. I find that this is both an encouragement to work hard towards a goal, and also a way to acknowledge that I really have achieved something of significance. Itâ€™s so easy to treat our achievements lightly, or to feel that they donâ€™t matter because they wouldnâ€™t be â€œbigâ€ in the eyes of the world.
So some of the rewards Iâ€™m planning at the moment (from small to big) are:
- A celebratory really good bottle of wine when I reach 1,000 subscribers on my blog, The Office Diet
- A meal out somewhere special when Iâ€™ve finished writing all the extra content that I want to put on my Aliventures site (a number of articles and tutorials), and when Iâ€™ve finished the redesign
- A weekend away when I first sell a novel (a little way off, at the momentâ€¦)
Although none of these are certain to happen, Iâ€™ve phrased them all as â€œwhenâ€ rather than â€œifâ€ because that helps me to be confident that I can and will achieve them all â€“ even if it takes me a while!
What have you achieved over the past few weeks? What milestones do you hope to reach soon â€“ and how will you be celebrating?
Photo by Ham Guy