I’m in the process of writing my “Mother of the Groom” speech and reliving many memories of my son when he was small. It’s making me emotional but above all, very proud of the man he has become.
I remember when my boys were little, how they loved to sit and look at the photo albums of themselves as babies. They would ask the same questions over and over again about themselves. They wanted to know that they asked funny questions (like the time Christopher was learning fruit names and learned that an orange was orange. He picked up a lemon and asked if it was “a yellow”). They wanted to see themselves as babies laughing and learning to walk. They loved the photos of themselves asleep in strange places (such as the Jolly Jumper).
It made them happy to see the good, and sometimes funny, things they did.
As I was reviewing those memories, it occurred to me that we aren’t particularly good as adults at looking back at the things that we do that make us proud, or remind us that we are good, smart, and professional at work.
We tend to focus on the things we didn’t do, the professional designations we don’t have, or the things we did wrong. We focus on the negatives instead of the positives.
Just as I created memory books for my children, we need to create those types of memories about ourselves at work. A type of memory file we can look at when we feel a little bit fed up, when we feel slightly inadequate, or when we feel under-appreciated.
We are aware that we need to tell our loved ones that we love them, that we need to encourage people who are suffering and to have compassion for others.
But do we do the same for ourselves? Do you have a memory folder at work?
I suggest you make one, by printing out hard copies of the things that need to go in it. I appreciate that isn’t the best for the trees, but sometimes having something tangible in your hand can be an important motivator. I know that kids like looking at photos on an iPad the same way we looked at our photo albums, but I don’t want your memory folder to get lost on your computer. I want you to see how big it is in your filing cabinet, and the number of things that are in it.
Here is what you need to put in your memory folder:
– A print-out of every (and if this means 200 of them, then print out 200 of them) email that says you did something awesome. If someone sends you an email thanking you for doing whatever it was you did, print it out.
– A copy of any report, document, or project where you “stretched” yourself, by working outside your comfort zone. If you felt a sense of satisfaction for doing something you weren’t sure you could do, put it in your memory folder.
– Print out your LinkedIn profile – especially the section where you have recommendations and endorsements. If you don’t have any recommendations, get a few (and remind yourself quarterly to ask someone else to write one for you). They can be from former work colleagues, current colleagues or supervisors, members of your association, team members or leaders on any projects you’ve been on, or from your local church group, daycare, condo association, etc. Get as many recommendations as you can, for any job you’ve ever done or volunteered for.
– A long version of your resume. Put every job you’ve ever had on it, and the tasks you did in that job. This isn’t the type of resume you will ever send a prospective employer, because it’s too big. It will list all your education (including the continuing education you’ve done since you’ve been working. And be sure to list every workshop you’ve ever attended.) It will also list any awards you’ve received, and designations (even if they aren’t current). List your accomplishments and special projects you’ve been involved with, and detail your role on those projects.
– Your favourite photo of yourself. It doesn’t matter if you were 20, or if you were 80 pounds lighter (or heavier) than you are now. It’s the photo of you that makes you smile when you see it. It doesn’t make you think “I wish I looked like that now,” it makes you warm and fuzzy on the inside. (One of my favourite photos of me is me on a beach, in a bikini, when I was seven years old. I’m not even sure it looks like me, but I remember the day, who took the photo, and how I felt in that moment.)
A study done by researchers at Harvard University found that when people were reminded of their best work as if they were hearing their own eulogy, they had more creativity and less stress.
According to Harvard, when people are reminded of their best work they had more creativity and less stress
“Our study found that activating one’s best self-concepts via reflections (which was done as part of corporate onboarding) can predict better performance outcomes and reduced emotional exhaustion and turnover, one year after the onboarding.”
Reviewing my son’s history is making me smile, and I expect that when I relive these memories on his wedding day, he will smile, as well.
I hope your memory file makes you happy, too, and that it plays a significant role in helping to motivate you professionally.
As appeared in The Huffington Post on April 9, 2018