Strategies for Promoting and Recognizing Your Achievements

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash


In the realm of professional life, there exists a common belief that exceptional work will inevitably draw the recognition it deserves. In an ideal world, your outstanding efforts would lead to promotions and higher paychecks without any additional effort. However, reality tells us that valuable work can go unnoticed. Frustration arises when you realize that your impactful contributions have been disregarded simply because decision-makers failed to comprehend or remember them.

IF you have an amazing manager who notices everything you do and rewards you without asking, awesome for you! But eventually in your career, if you haven’t already experienced it, you’ll have a leader who needs to be reminded. You may even have a leader who truly doesn’t understand the work you do. So, you need to be in the habit of knowing your accomplishments and sharing them with others. Knowing your accomplishments isn’t just about getting a promotion, pay increases, or external recognition; it’s also about boosting your positivity and confidence, knowing your worth, and aligning your desires with your work. Before I get into the tactics of how to do this, let’s delve into why it’s crucial.

Everyone Forgets

If you’ve ever had to complete an annual self-performance review or write one for someone else, you know the challenge of remembering what happened two months ago, much less nine months ago. Work-life moves fast, and unless there is a method to capture accomplishments, they are easy to forget. Your manager is experiencing the same lack of memory. For them to advocate for you, you need to help them out (and not just at the annual performance review time, but I’ll discuss this more later).

Boost Positivity and Confidence

When you have a tough day (and we all have them), it’s easy to get into a downward spiral and beat yourself up. Our brains are wired to do this. It’s how we continuously evolve and stay alive even if it doesn’t help us emotionally. To flip the script, utilize your list of accomplishments as evidence that you indeed contribute meaningful work. You’re just not perfect (and who is?)!

Consistently listing your accomplishments and celebrating them allows you to infuse more positivity into your thoughts, which works to retrain your brain to default to the positive (instead of the negative it’s evolved to seek out). This will boost your confidence and overall positivity.

Self-Reflection Habit

Establishing a regular time to write down your accomplishments each week or month (weekly is best, but don’t wait any longer than a month or you’ll start to forget), helps cultimate a habit and creates time to reflect on your work. This isn’t the time to list out everything you need to do, but instead focus on the projects and accomplishments that bring you pride and joy- what is it about them? Can you bring more of this into your work life? What do you want to learn? These insights will bring intentionality to your work and future endeavors.

Celebrate with Peers

A benefit of maintaining and sharing an accomplishments list is the encouragement it fosters among colleagues to also acknowledge and celebrate their achievements. It’s easy to underestimate the value of your work, especially during challenging projects. External perspectives from friends and colleagues play a crucial role helping you realize the significance of your contributions.

Aid to a Future Job Search

Inevitably, you’ll change jobs, which often means updating your resume, a dreaded activity. By having this accomplishment updated and ready to go, this means the task of sharing what you’ve done with future employers will be easy. This will aid not only in updating your resume  but also in crafting compelling narratives for the interview process.

How to Create an Accomplishment List

Below, I offer the best practices for creating an accomplishment list based on both my personal experimentation and insights gleaned from my clients. However, everyone is different, so make this practice your own and do what works for you. Explore various approaches and experiment with timing:

  1. Consistently Schedule Updates: Dedicate time on your calendar to consistently update your accomplishment list. This is especially helpful if getting started feels daunting; do a little bit at a time instead of feeling like you need to capture the past five years all in one sitting.
  2. Format Flexibility: Don’t get caught up in the format. You can figure that out as you go. Start simple and build on what works for you. For me, I find capturing notes in my Notes app on the go and transferring it to a more comprehensive Word document later is most effective. However, others prefer Excel as it allows easy categorization and sorting. To see what others have done, check out this Brag doc format or Notion template.
  3. Holistic Recognition: Write all the good stuff from all parts of your life, not just professional accomplishments. You are more than just your work, and all parts of your life deserve recognition and celebration. This is an excellent way to showcase your holistic approach to personal and career development. Breaking your document up into categories for all the roles you are in may be helpful to manage the list as it gets longer.

If you struggle with identifying your accomplishments, revisit your calendar to jog your memory on projects and what consumes your time.

How to Share with Your Manager

Although sharing your accomplishment list with your manager might initially feel awkward, they will genuinely appreciate it! From their perspective, it simplifies the task of writing your performance review. Instead of relying on their memory, they can now consult your document to ensure your accomplishments are accurately reflected. This document is especially invaluable during a manager transition. If you get a new manager, sharing your accomplishment document is instrumental in helping them comprehend your contributions, especially if it coincides with performance review time.

One way to start sharing these accomplishments is to send your manager a regular status update (email or shared document) that identifies what you accomplished for the week/month (depending on what cadence feels right for you and the work culture), as well as other status updates on projects. This proactive communication not only keeps your manager informed but also contributes to a more transparent and collaborative work environment. If you have a regular 1:1 meeting, this list can be sent with the agenda for the meeting (if you don’t do agendas, check out this post on 1:1 meeting best practices.

Advanced Level: After a Habit of Tracking is Established

Once you get in the habit of writing down your accomplishments, celebrating your successes and sharing with your manager, you can elevate this practice to a new level.

Recognition and Morale Boost

Acknowledgment of accomplishments not only benefits you but also contributes to a positive work environment when you extend recognition to colleagues for their achievements. This boosts morale and fosters a culture of appreciation within the team or organization.

Goals Setting

Tracking accomplishments can also serve as a tool for setting future goals and objectives. Reflecting on past achievements helps you identify areas for growth and development, which informs future goal-setting.

Learning and Development

While the initial purpose of the accomplishment list is to build positivity and celebrate successes, once that practice is established there is an opportunity to go deeper. By reflecting on what could have gone better in projects and identifying areas for improvement, this offers you a consistent approach to continuous improvement and excellence in your career.

In the fast-paced chaotic realm of professional life, the assumption that exceptional work will inevitably receive recognition is often challenged by the realities of oversight and forgetfulness. To mitigate the risk of valuable contributions going unnoticed, cultivating a habit of tracking and sharing accomplishments is essential. Beyond the tangible benefits like promotions and pay increases, this practice fosters positivity, boosts confidence, and empowers individuals to set and achieve goals. Through the celebration of successes and embracing a culture of recognition, professionals not only enhance their own career prospects but also contribute to a supportive and growth-oriented workplace environment. If you need help translating your accomplishments into the next step for your career, I’m here for you.