What did you achieve last year? What progress did you make towards your goals?
Those are questions that, a few years ago, I’d have had trouble answering. Perhaps I could point to some money saved up, or to the next step of a qualification earned, but it was hard to see whether I’d really made much progress. Often, I’d feel bad that I hadn’t achieved more – even when I’d actually done quite a lot.
If you don’t already have some way of tracking your achievements, I’d urge you to adopt this as a habit. I’ll take you through the way I do it, and explain why it’s important.
In the day to day of life, it’s so easy to get discouraged and lose sight of the big picture. Taking some time to look over what you’ve achieved is a great reminder of how everything starts with a small step.
Buy yourself a really nice notebook; don’t feel bad about spending a bit more money than you normally would. If you have something beautiful to record your achievements in, it’ll mean more to you than a scrappy $1.00 pad. Plus, you’ll want to keep this for years to come!
It’s up to you whether you want to combine your record of achievements with your goals. I find that this is useful, so long as I don’t get hung up on making sure that what I achieve is an exact match to what I hoped for!
On the first page of your notebook, write down “2010: Goals” and list no more than three or four key goals for the year. Make them specific (e.g. “Lose 50lbs”, “Get three articles published”, etc.).
A month is a good length of time to look at what you’ve achieved: it’s long enough to have accomplished something meaningful, but not so long that you’ve forgotten everything you’ve done!
Sit down somewhere quiet, at the end of each month, for just five or ten minutes. Write down in bullet points anything that you feel qualifies as an achievement. You might like to record:
It’s useful to think about your work life, your personal life, and your family life. Hopefully, you’ll find that writing down your achievements puts you in a positive frame of mind – you’ll be able to see what you’ve accomplished, and even in slow months, you’ll be surprised what you can find to celebrate.
When you’ve accomplished something big – perhaps a milestone on your way towards a goal – take time to celebrate! That might mean going for a meal out, opening a nice bottle of wine, buying a new book or DVD that you wanted, or simply giving yourself some guilt-free time to relax.
The act of recording and celebrating what you’ve achieved will encourage you towards further growth. Rather than dwelling on things which went wrong or didn’t work out the way you hoped, keep your focus on the areas where you’re developing and learning.
When you come to the end of a year, look back over your achievements. It’s almost certain that you’ll see some great patterns across those twelve months. Perhaps your first try at public speaking in January led to your first competition speech in June and your first win in September. Or maybe your first piano lesson in February saw you pass an exam in October.
What have you achieved over the past 12 months? What are you hoping to achieve over the next 12?