Keeping your spirits high with a ‘success file’

Maintaining a positive attitude can be tough at times. Life can hit us with all sorts of negative influences, and there are so many of them! Poor

Michelle Warren, President, MW Research & Consulting

performance reviews, downsizing (sorry, “rightsizing”), competitive colleagues, slow sales, family challenges, health issues, client problems, supplier mishaps, a lack-luster job search, a poor economy, or our own negative self-talk. We can be our own saboteurs, especially when things at work become mundane, repetitive, or negative.

All of these negative influences can be tiresome, time-consuming, and unproductive.

How can you best keep a positive outlook, when faced with increasing demands, time constraints, multiple projects, and the occasional failure?

Maintain a “success file.”

This was suggested to me when I initially went out on my own by a seasoned IT industry professional. When he was faced with his own sudden-layoff, his challenge of looking for a full-time position, finding freelance work, maintaining an industry profile, and staying top of mind was challenging. To help combat this, he categorized his successes.

This systematic categorization armed him with the ability to focus on his past achievements, to help keep his spirits up, while he looked for a new position.

What is a “success file?”

Essentially, exactly what it sounds like. It is a collection of your achievements and accolades. This is a unique file, just for you, and specific to your life and career. It might include:

  • Copies of your educational transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Photographs of awards ceremonies
  • A list of previous positions
  • Ribbons, trophies, certificates, letters of appreciation
  • Articles in which you were quoted
  • A list of your credentials
  • Copies of emails where positive experiences are shared
  • Requests for work and proposals
  • Successful proposals
  • Testimonials

Think of it not as a resume, but as a confidence-builder. You can use it in conjunction with your resume, but this file is for your eyes, not to share with potential and current employers.

Top three benefits:

  1. The ability to call up your past achievements and accolades will help strengthen your confidence.
  2. Referring to your past experiences will help you gain perspective as you consider and tackle new opportunities.
  3. The file will also provide you with details of your past experiences, which you can then use in discussions with others, such as, but not limited to: Performance reviews, job interviews, networking events, and career-planning conversations.

When it dips, be sure to refer to your “success file” to keep your spirits up. By occasionally referring to it, you can keep your past achievements at the forefront of your mind, remind yourself of your value, and use that confidence to help propel you forward.

The “success file” is a tool that I use with my clients to help them tackle new projects, find opportunities, or even improve their communication skills within their current work environments.

Three final thoughts:

  1. Don’t forget to add to it. Keep it current, as a dynamic tool to help you move forward.
  2. I also caution you to not to spend too much time in the past. Refer to it, but try to avoid “staying in it” as opposed to achieving new things.
  3. Remember: you are a valuable professional. The trick lies in remembering your value and communicating it effectively.

Oh, and the executive I mentioned, he still maintains one. He has a new career, one that inspires and challenges him. But he still faces challenges. A reminder of his past achievements helps motivate him to excel each day.

Michelle Warren
Michelle Warren
Michelle Warren helps her clients (executives, entrepreneurs, and individuals) improve their performance and productivity, communicate more effectively, and help others achieve success. She couples her nine years experience coaching and training executives with almost 20 years of corporate experience in the IT industry. Michelle also teaches communication and management courses at Sheridan College, and advises corporations on best IT-data management practices through her research firm, MW Research & Consulting.

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