I recently spoke with a woman who has two engineering degrees from a well recognized institution, is currently working on her MBA and has a solid software engineering background. She’s desiring to transition into a product manager role, but is hesitant because of her lack of experience, and concerned about her competition.
In reviewing her resume and hearing her speak about the key positions she’s held at two leading Fortune 500 companies (not to mention — she’s building a mobile app in her spare time), I didn’t expect her to be so unsure about her future career goals. She completely disregarded her achievements by focusing on the “half empty glass,” and as result, she failed to see the leverage she had in moving her career forward.
I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t relate. I too used to downplay everything. I would talk myself out of something before the thought or idea even materialized. I remember being a new member on a development team that was going up for an internal award. Although I busted my ass from day one and contributed as if I had been a long-term member, it was difficult for me to recognize the importance of the role I played.
Why do women struggle with recognizing their achievements and contributions? Men are so comfortable with showboating what they’ve done. They will gloat on for days with no guilt.
Thanks to my mentor, who told me to stop “brushing” off my skills, I was able to accept the great feedback I received from the team.
If this sounds all too familiar, here are five things you can do to become comfortable enough with your accomplishments to discuss them openly and not feel guilty about it.
1. Write down what you’re proud of and reflect on it until you have it memorized
Often times you don’t know all that you’ve accomplished until it’s shown to you. With 50 million other things going on in your life, its hard to remember all the things that you’ve achieved.
You delivered a project on time. You committed to your gym schedule for three months. You taught your little one to tie their shoes. You finally finished that DIY project that’s been lingering. No matter how big or small, be proud of what you accomplished and begin to take note.
Take 30 minutes to write down all of your accomplishments, no matter how small they are. Really appreciate all that you’ve done. Look at the past 3, 6, 12 and 18 months. Don’t neglect the grand scale of things.
Once written, take a picture and keep it on your phone, and look at that picture frequently. Absorb it. Memorize it. Feel happy in knowing that it was you who did all of it.
2. Celebrate every accomplishment (no matter how small)
It’s funny how, as women, we’re quick to celebrate everyone else’s achievements but our own. Make it a habit to do something special for yourself when you do something that you’re proud of.
Yes, you will probably feel guilty at first. This is normal. Things that we’re not used to doing cause us to feel uncomfortable in the beginning. But as the saying goes, “practice makes better.” The more you begin to celebrate your accomplishments, even the smallest one (e.g. completing one thing on your to-do list), the better you’ll feel about your achievements.
3. Counteract every negative thought with a positive one
Pay attention to what takes place between your ears. It’s amazing how we shut ourselves down with negative thinking. Did you know that how we view ourselves manifests itself in our day-to-day lives? I coach so many women who rule themselves out before they even begin, just through their thoughts alone.
Take time to hear what you’re saying to yourself. You’ll be amazed at how critical you are.
You may have overlooked a misspelled word, or forgot to send a signed paper to school with your kids. So what? The world can get over it.
When these self-defeating thoughts pop up into your head, be prepared to counteract them with a positive thought. It will be annoying at first. But as you become more skilled at it, you’ll immediately know what to do when that nagging voice begins to speak.
4. Focus less on what you’ve done wrong and more on what you’ve done right
It’s so easy to pick apart why we failed at something. We often think, “if only I could’ve…”, not focusing on all the things that we got right.
Don’t be so quick to look at the negative. There’s a positive in everything no matter how bad it may seem. Start giving yourself credit for what you’ve done right. If you busted your ass to meet an aggressive deadline and you missed it, don’t hone in on missing it. What about the other 99% you completely nailed?
Remember to congratulate yourself on all that you did right. Imagine how much happier life would be if you saw the good in everything, including yourself!
5. Accept compliments from others
The next time someone says good job, say “Thank you.” Acknowledge and appreciate the compliment. Add it to your bank of accomplishments. Don’t be so quick to share your spotlight with someone else or negate the role you had.
You busted your butt to get it done. Now sit back and bask in your personal glory.
By brushing off compliments, you’re automatically discrediting yourself and losing sight of your personal value. We’re so busy pampering others — let someone tell you how good you are for a change.
I challenge you to take the next 21 days to write out your accomplishments, pay attention to your thoughts and focus on all the good you do. I can guarantee you’ll be surprised to see the woman you find!