Taking stock of your professional and personal lifeFeatured

In this hustle and bustle of life, we rarely remember to stop, think and smell the roses.

We are inundated with images of success, people "making it" at extremely early stages of their careers, and the world constantly shifting goalposts of what it means to be successful.

When was the last time you actually stopped, breathed and asked yourself: Whose timeline am I on?

Who set it for me?

Why do I have to follow it?

What say did I have in setting this timeline?

When should I review it?

How did this impact the decisions I make or don't make everyday?

You have the opportunity to do this right now.

Before reading this article further, get a pen, paper and put a 10 min timer on your phone and set it aside. In another room if possible.


Draw two columns on the paper and label them: personal achievements and professional achievements.

You now have a two-column grid.

Think of all that you have achieved in the last 6-12 months.

To get you started, think of any promotions you had, salary raise, change of jobs.

On the personal column add some personal achievements. E.g. you may have gotten engaged, had a baby, bought your first apartment, got your first pet, had coffee with a long-time friend, volunteered at your local non-profit, organised your friend's surprise birthday party, helped someone do something, etc.

Write as much as you can remember. Don't leave out the small things, they're also welcome here.

Do this until the alarm rings.

10 minutes are up!

How do you feel?

Breathe, look at the list.

Writing down things that we accomplish helps to build a culture of self-appreciation and contentment for where we are. It helps us have grace for ourselves when we feel down and can look at previous accomplishments and pat ourselves on the back. It helps us become more aware of the impact of self-advocacy and having high self-esteem.

This exercise should help you realize that you do have many things to be grateful for.

Many things to pat yourself on the back about and many things that you may have taken for granted.

Taking stock of where you are in life, the things you have achieved both personally and professionally is a habit that we need to cultivate in order to develop a culture of contentment and appreciation of growth and momentum.

It helps us have grace for ourselves when we feel down and can look at previous accomplishments and pat ourselves on the back. It helps us become more aware of the impact of self-advocacy and having high self-esteem.

Make a note to do this every week and every month.

Spare 10 min and take stock.

Have a folder and title it something you like, to remind you of why you need to do this: some titles I've seen are: brag list, accomplishment list, pat on the back, self advocate, I did it, self love, gratitude list, etc. Go wild on what you choose as a title, just remember to set aside the time for the exercise.

There are many benefits to this exercise apart from the ones above, including having a ready list of accomplishments and a bit of context as to what happened and when. For example, if you launched a business critical project on time, led a cross functional team and got the market share desired by increasing sales, then you can write this and give more context when it's still fresh in your mind.

How big was the team you led, what were their roles in the project? How did you manage the communication?

How did you manage to launch on time?

What challenges did you face?

How did you overcome them?

How did this make you a better project manager? Etc.

When you get into the habit of taking stock on a weekly or monthly basis, whenever you need to prepare for interviews, promotions , etc, you already have your accomplishments at hand. You don't need to scratch your head or reach out to people to remind you of your role and impact. It's right there, in your folder. What a great feeling to have.

Documenting your achievements helps you appreciate that you are growing and are moving in the right direction. It helps you appreciate that growth takes time and helps you extend grace to your own growth journey.

Sometimes we're bogged down by lists of people who've made it; it seems like these lists keep getting younger: top 40 under 40, top 30 under 30, top 20 under 20, next we’ll see top 10 under 10!

Don't get me wrong here, some of the people celebrated in these lists deserve a clap 👏🏿 but the lists should make us aspire to what's possible and not pressure us into what's not for us.

With digital screens taking our undivided attention, endless comparisons of peers via their feeds and unrealistic expectations from family, friends, and society all lead to unnecessary pressure on where you're supposed to be in life.

Who's going to publish a list of the top 70 in their 70s?

Top 80 in their 80s?

I want to learn from their wisdom.

How the world they live in now differs from the one they grew up in. How people can become more human and less machine.

How to develop empathy, influence others positively, care for the elderly, have compassion for those in need, protect the most vulnerable, operate in kindness, burn your hearts for justice for the unfairly convicted, love one another.

These are the things that should be celebrated. The things that make this world better to live in.

This is why it's extremely important to also focus on your personal growth and take stock of your personal life.

How is your mental health? When was the last time you took a walk, cycled to your favorite cafe, called a friend, checked in on your elderly relatives, treated yourself to a relaxing spa?

The seemingly small things we do for others, go a long way in forming and transforming our humanity.

The mum with the screaming child at the supermarket, the old man crossing the street, the homeless beggar, the person you've never forgiven, the truth you've never revealed, the thank you you've never said, the hug you never gave.

What's stopping you from doing these things today?

What's stopping you from reaching out and calling that friend? Taking a walk, forgiving that person, reconciling with that person, helping the needy, volunteering at your local charity?

If you pick up that call and reconcile, book that coffee date, set up that meeting with your manager etc., you'll have something to document in your folder 1 week or 1 month from now.

Forgiving, Reconciling, meeting up with a long-time friend, etc., are accomplishments that should be celebrated.

Documenting your achievements helps you appreciate that you are growing and are moving in the right direction. It helps you appreciate that growth takes time and helps you extend grace to your own growth journey.

Just like a seed that germinates in the soil and it seems like nothing is happening overground, is the same way your internal growth happens.

Slowly as your personal list of accomplishments grows the list grows, slowly, you start feeling better about your mental health, the health of your relationships and the growth you're having on a personal level.

Documenting this journey helps you appreciate that the growth is happening at the right pace and at the right time.

Appreciating yourself builds a culture of being comfortable with the discomfort of growth. Growing builds resilience, patience and transformation. When we appreciate that good things take time to be developed and nurtured, then we can be kinder to ourselves and appreciate the time it takes to transform ourselves.

In conclusion, taking stock of your accomplishments brings a sense of purpose, contentment and appreciation that you have what it takes to get there. You will start seeing the list of achievements as proof of growth, maturity, self love and motion. You will see that you are not stuck despite the perception of being stuck.

To summarize:

  • Start today. List all the things you have achieved as far back as you can remember. Have a 2 column grid for personal and professional achievements.
  • Every day when you achieve something that you are proud of, put it on the list.
  • When you feel down and self doubt starting to check in, refer to your list.
  • Read out all the things you have achieved and tell yourself, You can do it! There is the proof in front of you that you did it before, and you can do it again!

thank you for being the first ones to engage with the article @Josefina @jodiesiow @Miiange @sonjab I hope this exercise left you refreshed and ready to take on the new year with a culture of stock taking and self love and grace.
I'm adding this to my start of the year reflection :) thanks so much for sharing!
I want to thank you for this exercise. I just completed it, and it really made me realize that I tend to forget the things I've accomplished; too bogged down in what I still need to finish. It gave a great perspective.
Hi Imani, thank you very much for your response. I'm so happy to hear this :) It is an eye opening exercise that we do accomplish much but unless we take some time every day to reflect on the small things we may miss them entirely.