Try and recall what you did a month ago at work.
How about six months ago? A year ago?
You may remember a vague theme around the work you did. But you have likely forgotten specific details.
And, then, there's work that you did that was important but can't recall at all.
Not only do you not remember your wins and contributions, it's very likely that the people who want to help you grow also may not remember them.
Work you did in a month
Work you remember you did after a few months have passed
Work your manager remembers you did after a few months have passed
Regardless of how great your manager is, they are still human and managing other people. They will likely forget the smaller and sometimes bigger contributions you've made. Just like you!
It's simple - record your accomplishments. Daily. Weekly. Monthly.
Experiment and you'll find the right cadence to reflect and document them.
Recording your wins is the only way to help others help you!
What should you record?
My personal philosophy is to record everything. No matter how small the impact seems right now.
Joined a meeting with another team to unblock them with knowledge that only you have? Record it!
Created documentation so that the knowledge does not get siloed and is accessible? Record it!
Received positive feedback from a co-worker? Record it!
Presented your work at a conference? Record it!
Added a new feature that will empower your users? Record it!
Try to include specific details about your accomplishments.
For instance, instead of merely stating that you successfully completed a project, focus on the tangible results or the positive impact your work had on your team or organization or customers. Did the project completion unblock another team? Did it accelerate someone's work? You can also include relevant metrics, testimonials, or any recognition received.
A nice side effect of documenting your wins is that it makes you think more deeply about your work and its impact.
Where should you record your wins?
The best place to record is somewhere easily accessible to you and something you can take with you across jobs.
It could be in a notepad on your computer or a google doc or anything else.
This document containing all your wins is also known as a brag document. I first read about brag documents on Julia Evans' blog.
Earlier this year I created an app, myBragDoc.com, to record my daily and weekly wins. I've shared it with a few friends who have also found it useful for recording their own accomplishments. Feel free to check it out.
What should you do with your brag document?
Share your brag document or a summary of it with your manager and peers (if your organization does peer reviews) during performance reviews and for writing promotion documents.
I know it seems awkward but they will thank you! It will help your manager advocate for you during promotion and calibration meetings.
Help them help you!
Lastly, when you do decide to move on to another job, because of kept a record of your accomplishments, you won't have to struggle to accurately remember and articulate your past achievements.
I hope I've convinced you that documenting your wins is an indispensable tool for your career growth.
I'll leave you with one thought that made it click for me:
If you won't record your wins, no one will remember them. Not even you!