Stay Motivated at Work With an Accomplishment Journal

Stay Motivated at Work With an Accomplishment Journal

We’ve long advocated for keeping a record of your accomplishments to whip out during meetings with bosses or human resources, whether to angle for a promotion or argue against a criticism. But you should keep that record for another reason, too: It’s motivational to look back on what you’ve done, see how you managed tasks in the past, and see how far you’ve come.

Why an accomplishment journal?

The idea of journaling about work might sound boring, but it’s a valuable practice. According to research published by the American Psychological Association, you’re more likely to succeed at your goals if you physically record your progress. Record-keeping, especially when done physically and visually, really helps keep you on task, but the best part is when you’re done and can document your big win.

As Elaine B. Piper, a career transition expert, explained in a LinkedIn post on the topic, an accomplishment journal helps you check up on past goals so you can set future ones. It gives you a confidence boost when you need it, too, because you can see just what you’ve already done. So when you’re feeling overwhelmed by a project, you can look back and see proof you’ve overcome this sort of challenge before.

What to track

Your accomplishment journal should be divided up by projects. Say you’re a server and set a goal of selling 10 bottles of expensive wine per week. That goal should have its own section; each day of the week, you should include how many bottles you sold, plus other details that lend themselves to what happened. Did a customer opt to buy a bottle after you gave them specific background information? Did you sell more between the hours of 8:00 and 10:00 p.m.?

Write your goal down clearly so you can always see it, but follow up with concrete steps. Write down potential steps you can take to meet the goal, then detail if and when you complete them. Include feedback from superiors, feedback from clients or customers, and any major milestones or setbacks, like awards or times you missed the goal. This journal is for you, and while it can be the foundation for documents you use to show your value at work, it’s not the product you’re going to wave around in meetings with HR, so be honest about successes and failures.

And don’t forget to track the small wins. If you sell three bottles on a night when you normally sell two, that might not seem like a huge deal—but you should write it in the journal. Teresa Amabile has researched and published with Harvard Business School on the practice of celebrating minor accomplishments, noting that motivation goes up among those who track small achievements every day.

Some journals to check out

This is something you can do with any old notebook, as long as you’re writing everything down and staying committed to tracking project progress, but there are a few pre-made ones available if you want to go all in.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


Leave a Reply