Often when I think about listing my accomplishments and skills it is regarding my professional life. I want to be ready for job interviews and performance evaluations. It’s taken me getting older and spending more time looking inward to realize that I am more than my job.
So much of our lives revolves around work in some way. For many it’s the reason they need to be up at a specific time and is often one of the first questions we ask when meeting someone new. Our society has put a strong emphasis on work accomplishments but those are not the most important things you do. The things we choose to do with our time outside of work matters just as much, if not more, than the things we do during out working hours.
To help give importance to all the things that I do outside of work I starting tracking them. What I decided to track and how I define an accomplishment is completely up to me. At the same time I found ways to track work accomplishments that I felt were important or things I was proud of. Sometimes this aligned with what work wanted track and sometimes it did not.
I encourage everyone to not just track their accomplishments but find a way that works for them that easily fits into their life.
Determine What parts of your life do you want to track
It can be helpful to start creating categories of what you want to track. This can include: your job, your hobbies, any volunteer work you do, any sports you play, etc.
I want to track
My work as an analyst
Choose How will you track each part
You don’t have to limit yourself to putting items in a list or document, though that can be a useful tracking tool. If your accomplishments are more visual (painting miniatures, making jewelry, creating new recipes, etc.) find a way to build a visual portfolio.
I will track my analyst work, weightlifting, and learning Spanish in a spreadsheet.
I will track baking and cross stitching by taking pictures of each project as I finish them.
Decide What information do you want to track
Before diving in, think about what specific information you want to track. It can be helpful to describe the accomplishment and include the date. Start off simple and add more as it fits you. Think about why you want to track these aspects of your life to better get at what you should track.
Some things to ask yourself:
- What do I want to capture about this accomplishment?
- What information would I want to share if someone asked about this accomplishment?
- What will help me track my growth?
- What will help me keep track of my progress?
- What is most important to me about this accomplishment?
Excel spreadsheet: Summary of accomplishment, length of time to complete, date of completion, skills used/learned, and any ideas for next steps
PowerPoint slides which will include a picture of each product and the following information: Summary of accomplishment, date of accomplishment, level of difficulty, and ideas for improvement
Find a place to store your document(s)
You may end up tracking all of your accomplishments in one document or it may work better for you to break it up into separate categories among multiple documents. Whether you have one or more documents, keeping them readily accessible will make it easier to maintain. This might be a folder on your desktop or a file stored in the cloud.
If tracking starts to discourage you, take a break
Keeping track of your work and life accomplishments can be a source of fulfillment and encouragement, but can also be a source of stress. Feeling that you have not done enough or your accomplishments are not worthy of being written down is a universal feeling. Know that you are not alone, but give yourself the flexibility to look into different ways of tracking
Focus on not comparing your accomplishments to others
This is easier said than done, but bears repeating. The goal of tracking your accomplishments is not to try and be better than others, but to track your own journey. It should be a way to help you see where you are and plan where you want to be. It should help you see how far you have come and how much you have learned.
If tracking feels like a burden, take time to reevaluate
While tracking accomplishments is important, it should not be an undue burden. It may take time to build up a routine that works, but it should fit into your life. If any aspect of tracking feels like a chore, whether it be what you are tracking, how you are tracking, or even how often you are tracking, think about what changes you can make so it works better for you.