Do you often wonder how to feel good about yourself at the end of the work day? Read on for my one easy step to recognize your contributions.
From time to time, I come across a coaching client who finds it hard to feel positive about their contributions at work. They struggle to feel good at the end of the day. They feel they could do more—sometimes, much more—and that they are falling short of expectations. Most often these are their own expectations, rather than what others think of them, which is frequently much higher, according to a surprising number of 360-degree evaluations.
My first position is to tell them that they aren't alone. We all feel that we could do more, especially when we see a pile of work ahead of us, which, yet again, we haven't completed.
Of course, it is the same for everyone, yet for some, this can be very challenging—debilitating, even—as they struggle to be objective about the contributions they are making. For some, a feeling of “cup half empty” overwhelms any sense of the efforts they are making and the value they are generating in the work they do.
Over time, in the coaching relationship, we are able to find ways to identify tangible evidence of their progress. This can include seeking ways to manage workload more efficiently and offloading some of the things they don’t need on their plates. There are many ways to do this, and through our coaching relationship, we work together to give them a better view of how well they are performing and to create the best space for them to carry out their role. When in a leadership role, how people spend their time can be very different from being hands-on in the tasks the team has to deliver. Letting go can be challenging, but with focus, common sense, and a nudge or two from their leadership coach, much can be achieved.
Often, in the first place, a better sense of reality is always a good thing—a quick win to build confidence and a sense of value—so one of the ideas I share with my clients is a simple tactic to give them a better sense of achievement, especially in the short term. As I usually work with individuals every two weeks, I encourage them to try this out between sessions and see what they notice.
The one easy step to recognize your contributions and feel good about yourself at the end of the work day is this:
Every evening before bed, spend a few minutes to consider this question: What five things have you achieved today?
I commend them not to look too hard. It could be that they opened a door for someone. It might be they listened to someone vent on their commute. It might be that they supported one of their team members to make a simple, yet challenging decision, through asking questions and listening to their reflections. It might be the completion of a project they have had in-hand for six months!
The key here is to notice achievement for a few consecutive evenings on a range of things, ignoring the gremlin lurking menacingly in the background and saying, “Ah, but what didn't you do?” Carrying out this simple exercise to will reset their appreciation of themselves like nothing else.
The exercise is to appreciate the reality of perspective. When we are up against it, that's all we see, yet we are so much more. Whether it's the recognition of a child's smile, or a “thank you” to someone who retrieves a lost glove. Maybe appreciating a team member who offers us help with something, and we accept that offer (which is in itself a massive achievement)
It doesn't matter.
You are doing good in your world, and it is of enormous value for you to recognize that in yourself.
Every. Single. Day.