Photo: Stocksy
Photo: Stocksy


Make lists of all the things you have done, not just of the things you haven't

The occasional achievement audit can go along way

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By Marisa Bate on

As part of my work with my drinking counsellor Shahroo Izadi, I’ve been making lists of my achievements. When she first asked me to do this, the list was pretty small: university, job, a nice email from a woman who read something I wrote once. But Shahroo pushed and I relented. And suddenly the list got longer. 

Reflecting on my achievements without feeling like a smug twat has been something I’ve been tackling. I’m of the belief that too much self-belief is not the key to a healthy career but the fastest route to getting a bit lazy. I want to feel like I’m on the back foot because that will push me further. 

But with Shahroo in one ear and the current constant life refresh noise in the other, I’ve started to wonder how helpful all these lists of things I haven’t achieved are

And normally this is the time of year to start making lists of all the things I’ve haven’t done and want to do – Sunday mornings spent planning how the next year will look, that back-to-school feeling that makes us think about what we’ll do better, what we’ll achieve, what we’ll work on in the next 12 months. As we keep being told: buy a new notebook, make a list and focus. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t advised to keep a to-do list, be it for my A-Levels or my life or my job. 

But with Shahroo in one ear and the current constant life-refresh noise in the other, I’ve started to wonder how helpful all these lists of things I haven’t achieved are. A long list of what I haven’t done doesn’t always motivate; it can have the opposite effect. I feel overwhelmed, useless and incompetent. What’s the point? Where’s the wine?

But if I take five minutes, as Shahroo suggests I do, to look where I’ve been, what I’ve experienced, what I’ve done, that’s far more motivating. I’m not  starting at the bottom, I’m just keeping going. I’ve come this far, so why not go further? 

So yes, it’s September, yes, capitalism tells you to buy a new notebook and yes, the ingrained sense of school terms tells you to assess your life. But why not look back before you look forward? Have an achievement audit – and use that as a springboard to achieve. Write down the things you have done. You might be suprised,  and you be might be far more motivated to do the things you haven’t done yet. 


Photo: Stocksy
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