Importance of tracking achievements and 9 ways to undertake

A few days ago when I wrote about managing the ‘To-do’ list, a thought struck my mind that if we decide to file all our lists, we will have a heap of tasks accomplished over the course of a year. Some may be small, and many would be big enough to be acknowledged. Nonetheless, they would provide us what and how we did what we set out to do one day at a time. Often, in a hurry to leap from one task to the other, we fail to pause and think about the task that we just completed. It could be

  • a major proposal that we completed in time and submitted,
  • a key decision we took based on solid data,
  • a tussle at work between employees that we resolved successfully or
  • an event we planned well and conducted or attended
  • a colleague you helped in a crucial task
  • a personal health challenge you overcame
  • a milestone you achieved, ex. The 100th client you won, the 25th marathon you ran or the next million you made in sales that year.
  • A project that was challenging and you completed it well ahead of schedule
  • A negotiation that turned around favorably because of your intervention

The thing is, can we remember all of this at the end of the year when it’s time for appraisal? Forget appraisal, can we even recall for our own satisfaction and analysis?  Can we recall our big and small victories when we really need to recall them? It is when the primacy effect (things we do at the beginning tend to be recalled better) or the recency effect (things we do at the end tend to be recalled better) come into picture.

Too many people undermine their own achievements saying that it was just their job to do what they did.  A few more are too modest to claim their rightful credit where it is due and tend to share it with the team. Yes indeed, but the way you handled the situation or faced the challenge says a lot about your personal acumen. In an era when each person must be his own brand ambassador and when you are pitted against each other for limited opportunities (in plum roles, projects, awards, promotions, etc.) it is even more important to beat your own drum (though I’m using a harsh phrase here). Several cultures discourage people from talking about one’s own achievements where it is considered not modest.

It is, hence, very important to track all our achievements and accomplishments. If you are still wondering on why we ought to do that, here are some reasons why:

  • To put forth during annual (or quarterly) appraisal in office
  • For your own reference because oftentimes we feel we haven’t done much whereas we can really track down several key things that we completed in a given time.
  • To update our professional resume, lest we forget what we ourselves have done in the past
  • To update on your social media feed (especially on Linkedin where our accomplishments can be seen by our peers, industry counterparts, recruiters, etc.)
  • To chronicle our milestones, for some day when we would like to jot down all of it in our memoirs
  • To create a ready reckoner in case you would need to send your updated profile for some appointment on industry body or an award
  • As a back-up to put your point forward strongly when asking for a pay hike
  • To flaunt on your social media accounts which are followed by not just your peers but also your bosses, your counterparts and your reports who would look at you with a renewed perspective when they know what you value as an accomplishment.

Documenting achievements and accomplishments

It’s not that difficult if you make it a habit to ponder upon the day, every day. Keep aside some time before you go to bed to document the day’s significant achievements. That way you have little work to do but don’t miss out on important ones.

Some useful means of documenting could be

  1. Using an app on your phone. That way, you can jot down on the go. Several apps that allow you to take notes can help you with this
  2. Keep a bedside book / journal. Mark the date and note down one-liners or some significant dates, people involved and some points about the task
  3. Use a calendar that allows you some space to jot down points. All you need to do at the end of the year (or a time period) is to sit with the calendar and transfer the same in a word file.
  4. Take screenshots of emails where your boss or client has appreciated your work and bookmark them for further reference
  5. Create a folder on your laptop and file photos, files with dates about key events
  6. Update your LinkedIn and Instagram with relevant dates, facts and references wherever appropriate
  7. Keep your resume updated all the time so that you can just pull out one and send it right away if an opportunity comes knocking
  8. Use a spreadsheet if you’re comfortable with tables. That way you can sort the dates, currency, amounts, figures, etc.
  9. Ensure you get the accurate dates, figures, amounts, percentages, number of people involved and their details so that you have all the metrics right. You know how it is with most corporate people- they love the God in the details!

It is the age of standing up for your own self and speaking out rather than remain silent. If you will not tell what you have achieved, no one else will. Rather, someone else will do that for himself and get ahead in life. Either you play the game well or cede defeat despite being good in it. It’s your choice after all and one which can have a bearing on your career and life in general. It will be too late when you realize if you don’t do it in time.

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