Build Something You're Proud Of
There’s a very unique type of fuel you get when you work at something and it pays off.
I’d like to share an experience where I felt that my hard work really paid off, the process in building those things, and the importance in being aware of all this.
End of Year
As we approach the holidays, and the incoming new year, it is a time to do two things: reflect on what you’ve achieved this year, and set new goals for yourself. It is a time where many celebrate with others, take time off, vacation, and “put a bow” on the year.
When I look back on the past year, it has brought many things I wasn’t expecting that I am proud of. It has challenged me in ways I didn’t anticipate, and it has been incredibly enlightening. So many projects and relationships, growth and good have come. But this is not about what actually went into those emotions and feelings, but instead the feelings themselves. That sense of achievement, that sense of fulfillment is something that can come from other things – and so my lesson here is to keep putting in the time and effort into long-term projects that will pay off eventually.
So think of how it feels to have ‘survived’ another year running your own business, or keeping your doors open for all of 2019…and try to recreate that in other ways. And not to just to feel good, but because it is the fuel that comes rarely, and recharges your batteries in ways that a vacation never will.
For me, this moment came before Christmas – and hit me a couple ways. But it could’ve come any time. Just this last week, I filmed a talk at Rogers Place for long-time client and friend Tyler Waye. We’ve worked together on numerous projects (Subscribe to his YouTube Channel here). During his talk, he had a video that we had worked on together play on the jumbotron. In that moment, I didn’t do anything significant, but I really just took in the moment. My hard work, my sleepless nights stressing about edits, stress about x or y, research of and buying gear, everything had led to this cool moment. I didn’t get or need any recognition for it either.
There are a few lessons that have hit me since then that really shifted my mood this week and I felt like I needed to share them:
Work hard, and with purpose. The pay off is coming, but for now, just keep your head down.
Relish the moments. They don’t happen often, but they’re cool to sit in.
Recognize your own achievements.
By doing these few things, I actually recognized that I could shift my mood. I had worked hard on something, I then realized that there was a moment to just let it pay off (for me), and I’ve reflected a few times on how that made me feel – and it had my tank refueled. I felt my batteries recharge a bit this week because all the work I was doing was achieving something. And coming from someone that often doesn’t hear the end-user feedback, it’s important to remember that this all came from within.
When I opened myself up to the notion that my work had value (and I know that sounds self-deprecating), I started to realize that hard work that’s right in front of me is really of great quality. My clients are very pleased with what’s coming in. And occasionally, it’s nice to hear it from them, but the important part is that I got a nugget of feeling that internally.
Realistically, I know that it’s unlikely you’ll have a moment like mine. Lots of stars aligned for that to happen. So what does this whole thing have to do with you? Again, this is not necessarily about the specifics, but the message is that if you’re putting your head down, you need to force yourself to pause and realize that you’ve made some impact and the hope is that you’re able to then recognize an achievement.
This whole feedback loop starts with hard work. My guess is you’re putting it in – but if you aren’t, the pay off won’t be there, and if you’ve read my other posts (please do!), you’ll notice that I know some people have trouble just getting this first part done. It’s just where we are at this stage of work – and as Tyler Waye would say, the statistics are shocking. And they are. Disengagement at work is a real problem, and it breaks the whole cycle of feel good moments that I’ve described and experienced.
And don’t let your moment be as grand as I make it sound like it should be. Let it be big enough, though. The questions I would ask to qualify a moment would be:
Does this thing encompass a large chunk of my work?
Does it bring a sense of pride when I talk about it?
Have I talked about it often?
Is it cool (to me)?
And be patient and ready for it. I think I’m at a stage where I’m able to fuel my own fires, but they only get so hot. And so I just remain patient for a moment to come along so I can let that fire get a bit hotter. I saw this one coming, I sat in it, and I let the fire grow. I let that fuel burn. Enough fire metaphors.
Listen, I have had many moments where I should have been proud of the work I’ve done. I don’t like getting the attention. But when I can give myself the permission to be proud, to actually genuinely feel good about what I did, it is totally different. And my hope is that for others who start to get the winter blues around now, like I do, that you dig deep to look for those feel good moments. And they may not come right away. And they are short lived. But they build pride in your work. And if there’s one thing that I strive for, it’s to feel proud of my work. For small business owners, self-employed folks, artists, and many others, it is so hard to actually recognize your achievements because if you’re like me, you’re very hard on yourself.