Last Christmas, I was given a really good notebook – a seriously nice notebook. It had thick creamy pages and a leather cover. This was not the sort of notebook where I could scribble my blogging ideas, to-do lists, and short story ideas in – it was far too good for that!
So I decided to make it into an “Achievements Book”. Over the past nine months, I’ve found this a hugely helpful practice for several reasons ranging from daily motivation to future planning.
I want to encourage you to start something similar. Here’s what to do:
- Get a Nice Notebook
This is going to be a book you’ll want to keep for years – so make it a good one. It doesn’t need to be big (mine is about 5 inches by 7 inches), but it should be durable and a joy to write in.
- Use a Page Per Month
I’m not expecting you to sit down every day and record what you’ve accomplished – you’d soon get bored! At the end of each month, though, fill a page with a list of your major achievements. Anything from four to eight items is probably about right (more, and you’ll be concentrating on less significant milestones).
- Write Your Achievements
Try to focus on the aspects of your life which are important to you – not on what you think others would consider significant.
For example, if you’re trying to get fitter and healthier, you might want to record “Lost four pounds this month” or “Went to all my scheduled gym sessions”. If you’re an aspiring writer, “Completed two short stories” or “Won third prize in a writing competition” might appear in your Achievements Book.
This is clearly not a difficult task for you to take on. The benefits far outweigh the value of the mere 15 minutes per month that you’ll need to invest in this. Here are a few of the benefits that I quickly noticed:
- Focus On Progress
Sometimes it feels as though we’re running hard and getting no closer to our goals. However, if you sit down for ten or fifteen minutes once a month and think back on what you’ve done, it’s surprising how much you might have achieved. Focusing on the progress that you have made – rather than looking at the gap between where you are and where you want to be – can really help to motivate you and spur you onwards to greater achievements!
- Looking Back
One of the greatest things about the Achievements Book is that, like a diary, you can look back on it and see how you’ve progressed over the course of six months or a year. When I read back over my Achievements Book, I can easily trace the course of my staff blogging career so far – which started in January:
- January: Guest post on Diet Blog
- February: Became regular writer for Diet Blog
- March: Became regular writer for Daily Writing Tips
- May: Guest posts on Ririan Project, Pick the Brain, Dumb Little Man, Cranky Fitness
- June: Became regular writer for The Change Blog
- August: Became regular writer for Pick the Brain and Dumb Little Man, wrote two articles for Brazen Careerist, guest post on ProBlogger.
It’s really encouraging to look back and see how far I’ve come in the past nine months.
- Looking Forward
As well as recording my monthly achievements, I wrote a list of my years’ goals in the front of my Achievements Book. This unfortunately shows that I’m not too great at sticking to my resolutions – it’s surprising to me to see how different my goals were from the reality! My achievements led me down a path I didn’t expect (focusing on non-fiction rather than fiction writing) and in fact, the year has worked out better than I could ever have predicted in January.
I’m hoping that the practice of keeping an Achievements Book this year will help me when it comes to setting goals (or not!) next year.
Keeping an Achievements Book takes no more than fifteen minutes of your time, once a month. If you’ve never tried recording your achievements in this way, why not give it a go? And if you’re willing to share some of your major accomplishments this year, add them in the comments below. Don’t worry if they don’t seem like “important” things to the rest of the world – the key thing is that your achievements should matter to you.