Have you ever gathered all of your professional and personal accomplishments into a single document?
An accomplishment journal isn’t equal to your CV, credentials or acquired skills. It’s a simple bullet list of your achievements that you’ve completed throughout your life or over the recent years.
Whether you are about to change careers, set stretching goals or just need a yardstick to measure where you are now, an accomplishment journal will let you address tough questions.
Let’s jump in and see what an accomplishment journal can offer and how to create one.
How do I keep an accomplishment journal?
It was a course I took on Coursera―one of the largest online learning platforms―when I first came across the idea of the accomplishment journal (credit to Charles Duquette and the Coursera community). I quickly embraced the concept and scheduled a one-on-one meeting with myself to create one.
Then, I faced a painful experience. It dawned on me that, despite my degrees, credentials and almost 10 years of work experience, I could hardly put any measurable accomplishments onto paper. Still, I persevered and finally hammered out a nice list of accomplishments. Well, it’s not so easy to get everything measured, but once you get the idea, it will be a lot easier and fun.
Your accomplishment journal should be composed of accomplishment statements. Begin your statement with an action verb and use the simple past tense. Be as specific as you can. Name things by their names and underpin your statements with exact numbers wherever possible. The key here is to be measurable. No place for rambling here.
For example, you could put an accomplishment statement like this: “Authored 13 guest posts in top-ranking productivity magazines with a total number of 152 comments.”
As a backup of your statement, articulate the antecedents, the steps you took to move things forward, the competencies you needed, and the deliverables. You could then make use of all these pieces of information as you will see later in this post.
Your journal can be a physical bullet journal. A note-taking app like Evernote or even a mind mapping tool will do the trick as well. Whatever platform you use for journaling, keep it simple and easily available for future references. The latter is the subject we continue with.
How do I harness my accomplishment journal?
Let’s assume you’ve gathered all your accomplishments and put them in a journal. The next step is to claim your benefit.
Have a look at your list and ask yourself the following questions: What are my enjoyable accomplishments? Are there any? How could I build on them? What steps could I take to get more enjoyable accomplishments done?
Maybe, it’s time to change careers, harness your dormant skills or negotiate with your boss for more deep work.
If you’re preparing for a job interview, it’s mandatory that you consider your accomplishment journal first. It’s very likely that you’ll meet some tough questions about your accomplishments and a list can help you with that.
Carefully selected accomplishment statements would perfectly fit into your CV as well. If you keep your accomplishment journal updated, you no longer have to spend hours updating your resume. You would just pick up those accomplishments that are in line with your targeted position and fine-tune them if necessary.
Your journal will best serve you if you keep it fresh and to the point. I suggest that you schedule a regular update of your accomplishment journal. I would prefer a monthly update, but a quarterly update is highly recommended. Group, rethink, and rephrase your statements as frequently as you need.
I found that an accomplishment journal takes minimum effort to assemble, but it really pays off in the long run. It can assist you when applying for a job or building your career further.
More importantly, it may serve as a yardstick against your life. It may point you in the right direction and keep you on track.
Give it a try and schedule a meeting with yourself now to put all your accomplishments together.
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Author: Csaba Vadadi-Fülöp
Biologist PhD & blogger. In line with his burning enthusiasm for productivity, Csaba launched Productivity95 where he blogs about productivity and personal development.