Pop quiz: when was the last time you acknowledged and appreciated yourself? That's right: YOU. Not your spouse, not your children, or not your boss, coworkers, or friends. Just YOU.
Seriously, think about it. And if it's been so long since you last pat yourself on the back, then I want you to take the time right now to acknowledge and appreciate yourself for everything you've accomplished today, throughout the year, and in life. Ask yourself: How many times have you succeeded in the past month? The past year? The past 10 years? Are you able to recall your successes as easily as your failures and missteps?
This is not a selfish and egotistical act in the least. By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you've achieved--and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses--you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and -appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments. In working with top leaders and thought philosophers of our time, I will tell you that among their secrets of success is a regular practice of acknowledging and appreciating what they have. It can offer an oracle into the future because it not only tells you where you are but it also helps clarify where you want to go in life. Whatever that might be. The road then becomes easier to navigate--easier to see from the distance and walk confidently step by step.
Don't forget to think about big and little accomplishments. Many people under-appreciate the minor things they do successfully every day. And yet they can recall in detail all the times they have failed or made mistakes. That's because the brain remembers events more easily when they are accompanied by strong emotions.
For example, you might vividly recall a graduation, losing 10 pounds, having a child, winning an award, or landing a highly sought after position. But see if you can identify just as many minor, more subtle successes, such as your intimate conversation with your spouse last night, the re-connection you established with an estranged friend last month, the quality time you were able to spend with your children today, how you checked off all your list of To Dos for the weekend, how you learned a new task at work, or got your kid to school on time. These may seem like minor acts in the grand scheme of life, but they are what make us feel whole, happy, and accomplished along the journey toward those larger, and much more deeply satisfying moments.
Acknowledging your mistakes also has it pluses, but we often don't have trouble recalling or mulling over those. The point is, if you don't acknowledge your successes the same way you acknowledge your mistakes, you're sure to have a memory full of blunders. And a mind stuffed with negative chatter about the gaffes of life won't fuel your energy, nor your confidence, creativity, and motivation to keep going. Consider this, too: if you only remember the mistakes and failures, you won't be as ready to take risks that will lead to your successes. Build your self-esteem by recalling all the ways you have succeeded and your brain will be filled with images of you making your achievements happen again and again. Give yourself permission to toot your own horn and don't wait for anyone to praise you. Two suggestions:
1) Record Your Personal History. Take time to write your achievements down. Start when you were very young and think of all your achievements since then. Don't just pick the major milestones; write down all the things you take for granted. For example, if you list your college degree, write your appreciation for having the opportunity to go to college and forge friendships that will last a lifetime. You can also create a log of success every day and review it when you are faced with a new challenge. By writing it all down daily, you're securing it in your long-term memory and it will become a part of what makes you tick. It can even become a source of positive reminders and affirmations for when you're feeling down, as well as a personal record of you that becomes your legacy.
2) Celebrate Yourself with Mementos. Surround yourself with reminders of your successes. Put up pictures, articles, trophies, awards and other pieces that bring your attention to your success. Make your environment speak to you about your achievements. Be proud of them!
By the way, showing appreciation for yourself and accomplishments has many rewards that go far beyond boosting your own self-confidence. It's like a cascade--your heightened confidence will spill over into other aspects of your life. Watch what happens when you gain that special trust in yourself. You'll attract opportunities, experience more fulfilling relationships, and have no trouble reaching loftier goals. Remember, people like to be around those who have a healthy self-esteem and who are achieving their goals. Commit to acknowledging your achievements and your brain will begin to tell you the truth: that you can do anything!
©2009 Jack Canfield
Jack Canfield is America's #1 Success Coach, co-founder of the billion-dollar Chicken Soup for the Soul brand, and a leading authority on Peak Performance. If you're ready to be more accomplished and have more fun in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessPrinciples.com.