The Most Important Book You’ll Ever Own.

It’s of average size and comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. It has no publisher, no title, and no reviews on Amazon.

The author is you.

The book? A Success Journal.

The concept is simple: Have a dedicated place where you regularly record your accomplishments. Big ones and small ones. Personal ones and professional ones.

No one else is sitting around recording everything you’ve achieved. Your boss, advisor, or mentor isn’t going to regularly track all the things you’ve done. You are responsible for tracking your accomplishments. If you don’t have a Success Journal, run your fingers to your favorite online retailer and buy one… now.

Why? Data.

So you can better advocate for yourself. For that promotion. For that job. For that raise. For that title. For that grad program. For that leadership position. For that award. For you.

It’s easy to forget everything you’ve done over the course of a year – over the course of a job or position. We often sit down in performance evaluations, job interviews, or in conversations with our supervisors and mentors without the data that demonstrates our achievements, our skills, and our potential. We scramble to update our resumes and are flummoxed trying to figure out “what we did” while we were in a specific role. We leave annual reviews frustrated and disappointed because we didn’t get the raise we were hoping for. And if any of these statements feel familiar to you, it’s time for a Success Journal.

I am currently coaching a young professional. It’s her first time ever supervising staff and in addition to leading a team she was tasked with creating and implementing an enormous project in a very short window of time. This project required her to engage lots of different stakeholders, work in partnership with some really important people, and would make a significant impact on her organization. It was a no fail situation. At the start of her engagement I had her start a success journal. Ninety days into our engagement, we checked in on successes.

She had a little list that looked a little like this:

  1. Finished and launched big project.
  2. Trained staff.
  3. Happy staff and clients.

Everything on that list is true, but nothing on that list accurately encapsulates the true work and success she has had in the last 90 days. Each of those achievements are more likely ten smaller achievements that better represent all of the work she has done and truly highlight her skills as a young professional. Take that list into a performance evaluation and your supervisor will be less than impressed. Turn that list in to 30 specific achievements that highlight what when into achieving those goals – and you’re destined for a raise, a bonus, or a promotion.

I’m not going to lie, a success journal takes work. You can’t look at a Success Journal like homework you have to do. You have to look at the Success Journal as an investment in you.

Ready to get started? Here’s a few tips to make it a success:

  • Write something down every day. I don’t care if your only success today is, “got so-and-so to call me back”. Write it down. It’s much easier to edit away the stuff that isn’t that big of a deal, than it is to remember what you did in April. You’re also more likely to capture the little wins along your way to the big goal.
  • Ask yourself, “What went into achieving this?” Try to subdivide and parse out everything that went into achieving those successes. The more you try to separate your achievements into smaller ones, the clearer the picture becomes on what your true talents, skills, and achievements are. It gives you concrete examples to use when applying for jobs, awards, promotions, or leadership positions.
  • Include personal successes, too. Don’t just write down things you achieved in your job or “leadership position”, but record things that are a part of your personal and/or volunteer life, as well. While you might not be able to use them for a promotion, they come in handy for resumes and applications.
  • Review every 90 days. Take a look back at your successes every 90 days. Highlight the big stuff. It’s important to look at how far you’ve come and use those things to inspire new action, set new goals, or give yourself a kick in the pants.

Look for a blog coming soon about how to use these successes to advocate for that raise, promotion, or job. Until then, start recording those successes!

Until we break more glass…