On Her Own

Making a list

Last night was the “Preparing for Job Layoffs” webinar I talked about last week, from Condition Orange Preparedness. Brenda brought up a great point about keeping your resume up to date at all times. I see why it’s important for being ready to hit the ground running if you need to start job hunting in a hurry, but I think the general concept is something you should revisit on a regular basis. And it doesn’t matter what kind of work you do. Whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom or housewife, service or retail staff, a high-powered executive, or something else in between, updating your resume or list of accomplishments is always a good thing. There are several reasons, but here are a few:

It’s a way of seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes. You might think that what you’ve done over the last few months is all in a day’s work, but was it really? If you actually write it all down in a bullet-point list, how long is it? How much on there were things only you could do, or that only you did do? Putting it in concrete form helps make it harder to deny your accomplishments. In fact, I use a variation of this trick on days I’m feeling extra sluggish, and make a note for everything I did from getting out of bed and getting dressed to eating lunch to reading a chapter of a book. Even the littlest things add up, and they can become significant over time. Conversely, even the biggest things can get lost to hazy memory, especially if you’ve been really busy. The very fact that you got that busy and managed to keep the most vital balls in the air can be its own accomplishment. But you may not see that until you see it on a screen or a piece of paper.

It’s a way of learning how to be proud of yourself, to value yourself. Now that you’ve seen all of those big and little things you have managed, all over the same time, own all of those wins! For a moment, forget about all of the projects that you’ve let languish, and all of the details you didn’t get to. Look instead at all that you did, and own it. Own how awesome and incredible you are. Everything you struggled against to get there only tells the story of how hard you’ve worked to do what you have, and that’s its own triumph, that you succeeded in so many things against those odds. If you need to, maybe write down all of the things you failed to do so that you can acknowledge how many obstacles have been set in your path. But do me a favor? Right next to those things, write down why you didn’t complete them. Were they things within your control? Did you decide to let them go in favor of another goal or because the time wasn’t right? Were they maybe a little bit too gigantic all at once? That’s okay too.

It’s a way of keeping yourself out of a rut. Okay, maybe you truly aren’t happy with what your list has revealed about how you’ve been spending your time these past months. I’m not talking about not meeting impossible overachiever standards you’ve set for yourself, and comparing yourself to others and wondering why you aren’t good enough to do everything you think that they have (hint: they probably haven’t, but that’s a topic for another day). Instead, I’m talking about realizing that you might have done a million and one of the exact same thing over and over again. The volume is impressive, but you aren’t learning anything new or expanding your skills. In fact, you’ve just revealed to yourself why you’re so bored and, well, blah. The list confirms it, and tells you why. Now that you know, what are you going to do about it?

It’s a way of reminding others of your value. So far, we’ve talked about what you get for yourself out of lists like this. What about putting that list in front of somebody else? Maybe you’ve been telling your boss you’re really busy all the time but they don’t believe you. This kind of list, perhaps kept in a daily journal, can help put it in perspective for them too, especially if you can add up some numbers about how many tasks you’ve completed and how long they’ve taken you. Maybe your partner is wondering why your house is a wreck and you’ve gotten behind with the chores, but now you can show them how you’re also dealing with remote schooling the kids, cleaned out and organized the basement finally, and even refreshed the hall bath with new paint and fixtures. Whatever it is, you’ll be a lot more effective making those arguments with some real data in hand instead of vague feelings.

It’s a way, yes, of getting ready to find a new job. Whether you’re feeling undervalued where you’re at now, ready to move up to the next step in your career, in desperate need because you just got laid off or suddenly found out that you need a new income in your household, you’re going to need that list of things you’ve done and an up-to-date resume. They’ll help you fill out applications, have stories for hiring managers, and get the jobs. Even if you’re not looking right now, you don’t know what tomorrow holds. It could be a literal tomorrow, or a tomorrow a few years from now, when you have a need or when you find the perfect opportunity. Not having to scramble then, and potentially forgetting about some of your awesome accomplishments, will be worth the few minutes now when everything is still fresh in your mind. Making a habit of putting aside a little time to do this every few months will make your life a lot easier in the future, when you are under more pressure to get it right.

So here’s your homework this weekend. Make that list. Update that resume. And go out and get some fresh air.

Hi, I'm Annette.

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