Staying in the Moment: Why You Need to Savor Your Accomplishments

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Apr 14, 2015

We all tend to get so busy that work and life can just fly by at a very fast pace.

What I have learned is that if you don’t pause to punctuate your accomplishments, they have a tendency to fade from memory — not just in the minds of others, but in your own memory, too!

Here’s what can happen: You finish a giant project. It was a huge success. In this moment you feel very proud. You may get recognition from you customers or your company. But if you don’t pause to capture this moment for yourself, you’ll lose it.

Works gets hard again right away

If you just go back to your task list, and just keep doing more work, after a few months, that sense of pride fades — or gets beaten out of you by new work, new crises, new pressures. And the detail and concrete nature of the accomplishment fades, too.

If you try to recall the story later, it’s missing the richness of all the subtle things that made it so great.

So, don’t lose your story!

You run the risk of looking back at something you did that was really great in the past and thinking, “Yeah, I did that, but it wasn’t such a big deal.” But it WAS a big deal!

But if you took the time to capture it, when you revisit it months or years later, you’ll still have the reaction, “Wow, that was a big deal!

How to capture your best

Ask yourself the question, “What did I do in the past six months that I was most proud of?”

Just write something down while it’s fresh in your head. It doesn’t have to be long. Think about:

  • What was the situation?
  • What did you decide to do about it?
  • How did you make that decision?
  • What did you do?
  • How did it turn out?
  • Who loved it? What did they say?
  • What was the business upside?
  • What were you most proud of?
  • How does this story reflect what you do when you are at your best?

Benefits of documenting your best

Right away this has at least two major benefits.

  1. If you have things you are proud of, you don’t lose them.
  2. If you don’t have things you are proud of, it’s a trigger to evaluate what you are doing with your time!

The other benefits of having a pre-existing stack of your best stories are that over time:

  • If you ever need to get ready for an interview, you don’t need to rack your brain to try to come up with stuff, it’s all there.
  • More importantly, since you captured the story and accomplishment while you were still excited about it, you will have preserved the excitement. You will have preserved the details that made it interesting, and the subtle elements that connected with you emotionally. So, when you tell the story in the future, it will be a much more compelling and credible story.
  • If you ever get discouraged, or have something happen that shakes your confidence, you can re-read your stories and revisit your accomplishments for your own benefit.

Savor your best

Most likely, one of the reasons you were proud of what you did was because you learned a lot. So don’t forget to share what you learned!

This is an amazing way to create positive visibility for your work without bragging.

When you share something important that you learned, you are adding genuine value to the team. You get visibility, without being annoying. That’s because what you learned is interesting and useful — and interesting and useful is never annoying.

Talking about what you learned, and teaching it to others also helps you expand on your own insights, so you get smarter too.

Schedule some time to think, write, and reflect

Sure we are all busy, and this is not strictly part of your day job.

But, it’s worth scheduling about one (1) hour every six months to do this. That’s because having your best work documented will not only save you time in the future, it will allow you to distinguish yourself and build credibility quickly whenever the need arises.

And also, don’t forget, having authentic, interesting success stories at your fingertips is rocket fuel for your establishing a strong personal brand.

This was originally published on Patty Azzarello’s Business Leadership Blog. Her latest book is Rise: Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, and Liking Your Life.