2020 is rapidly approaching its end. What’s more, it’s the end of a very challenging year for all of us. So, what’s next? How are you looking forward and embracing the changes with excitement and optimism? Have you thought about what goals you’re going to set for yourself? 

A big mistake that many of us often make is neglecting to track our successes—both big and small. As a result, we come to the end of the year thinking that we haven’t done much at all. And of course, the end of this year looks a little different for all of us. So, if you didn’t stick to your goals or found that many of them were stalled due to circumstances beyond your control, then put down the shame stick and give yourself a break. Because we’re all in the same boat! 

But that doesn’t mean we should give up on our goals altogether. No, quite the opposite. We need goals to keep us motivated, to have something to work towards, to feel a sense of purpose and direction. Not only that, goals help us to celebrate ourselves and champion the progress we’ve made, no matter how big or small.

Life moves swiftly (and often we’re not always in control of the steering wheel—thanks covid!) but when we neglect to take the time to note our success, we can quickly forget they ever occurred. Harvard professor, author, researcher, and TedX speaker Teresa Amabile studies how small, everyday work can influence people and their performance in her book, The Progress Principle.

Gaining accomplishments is not necessarily changing up your whole life in an instant. Rather, it’s more about taking stock of small, but meaningful wins that build to larger ones. 

Here are a few ways to build habits in which you slow down just enough to log your successes on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. This way, when you come to the end of 2021, you have a large collection of accomplishments you certainly did achieve. 

Audit Your Accomplishments

Before setting new goals, it’s important to take stock of what you have achieved over the past year. Don’t hang in that end-of-year slump misconception that you accomplished “nothing.”

Here are some easy ways to audit your accomplishments through the past year:

  • Sift through your emails. Check out emails with particular clients, management, or connections. Go month-by-month to find one “win” email per month. 
  • Scroll through your social media. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember what you did last week, nevermind seven months ago. Sift through your Instagram feed, your stories, your LinkedIn updates, and your other social accounts. 
  • Talk to your coworkers. Ask your coworkers and friends about their big accomplishments this year. By speaking to others, you might light up some areas of your own achievement. 
  • Refer to your work notebooks. If you keep an analog notebook, take a look through it. Note any large projects that were finished—as well as all of the work that went into it.

Journal It

Our first piece of advice? Get back to your journaling. Create a space—it can be small—to input daily or weekly accomplishments. You can even start a bullet journal to amplify your progress, organize your thoughts, and plan out your future goals. 

Journaling is a great habit to keep track of what’s going on in your life—both personally and professionally. You might keep a separate professional journal to detail accomplishments in the workplace and one to detail your personal life’s goals and accomplishments.

Create Small Digital Notes

Some of our greatest accomplishments happen on-the-go. It can be a passing compliment in the hallway, an unexpected connection you made at a conference, or a particularly good meeting. 

This is where a simple notes app or voice recording on your phone can work absolute wonders. Be more like Kevin McAllister in Home Alone 2 by creating small voice notes on your phone or by taking ten seconds to record a small note in an app. Once you start to make a habit of these small accomplishments, you’ll realize how quickly they can add up and be proud of your achievements.

Create Small Weekly Goals

A great way to achieve small goals is—spoiler alert—by actually taking the time to set them. We can tend to get bogged down by gigantic goals that seem insurmountable, so let’s avoid that. For example, rather than saying “I need that management role this year—or else…” create more palatable goals like “take an online course on management.”

Get a Goal Buddy

Another great way to achieve some goals? Team up with someone else. Invite your work wife to participate in some goal-setting and goal-tracking with you. Sharing your intentions with someone else allows you to work together in order to set up a real game plan, track progress, and help each other along the way. Working together with someone else also opens up other points of view when it comes to different approaches.

Calendar It All

Your best friend in creating, completing, and maintaining repeated goal-setting will be consistency. Add five or ten-minute calendar allotments in your calendar. Especially when starting out with goal-setting, make sure to commit to your own calendar invites. Whether it’s setting up a time to journal your accomplishments, to make progress against a certain goal, or to meet with your goal buddy—stick to it!

This post was originally published on November 21, 2019, and has since been updated.

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