Help Your Career: Keep a Success Diary

Help Your Career: Keep a Success Diary

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Learn from your mistakes.” In fact, there are numerous articles and blog posts on how understanding what you did wrong can help you avoid making the same mistake a second time.

Learn from your successes

All of this is true. Nevertheless, it’s just as important to learn from your successes! Because if you don’t understand what went into doing something well, then the chances are slim that you’ll be able to recreate that process a second time.

How to keep a success diary

So how can you learn from your successes? The answer is simple: Keep a success diary. A success diary is a ledger of your professional accomplishments. However, instead of simply keeping a list, it’s best if you analyze each accomplishment and determine what the drivers of success were. That way, whenever you’re about to start a new project or endeavor, you can refer to your success diary and see what has worked in the past.

For example, let’s say you just landed a big account for your company. Ask yourself what you did to persuade the client to come to your company instead of the competition. Were your soft skills integral in establishing rapport and keeping the lines of communication open? Did you find a nugget of information about the client’s business needs that you used to show them how your company’s expertise was the perfect match? Whatever it was that you did, write it down. Then next time you’re competing for an important client, you can review what led to your success before and recreate those same actions.

Of course, many successes are thanks to a team effort. In these cases, you should still analyze the process and determine what each team member did. This will allow you to learn from other people’s actions, too.

Motivate yourself with a success diary 

There’s another useful — and positive — reason for keeping a success diary. As Rebecca Beris explains in her Lifehack article titled “Science Explains How Writing Down Tiny Achievements Every Day Changes Our Brains,” writing down what you did well can give you a sense of achievement. Positive emotions like this release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which makes you feel good, gives you energy, and motivates you to keep doing things that will trigger the release of more dopamine. In other words, once a professional success gives you a feeling of accomplishment, you’ll be more motivated to keep working hard to achieve more successes.

All things considered, if you really want to move your career forward, don’t forget to keep a success diary. Because when you understand how your actions led to a positive outcome, you’ll literally have your own formula for success at your fingertips!