I recently uncovered a habit I developed of letting others know of my accomplishments. Not in the healthy way of sharing great news with others. My tendency was to notify others of all of my small victories every step of the way. I was doing this to get some sort of affirmation from others of how great of a job I was doing. Those affirmations kept me moving forward with my progress. Was my habit of praise panhandling a negative thing? Not necessarily, but the motives behind my actions were causing me to become dependent of the acceptance and praise of others as a major motivator.
Once I realized what I was doing I immediately decided to develop the habit of congratulating my self for my accomplishments.....aloud. Yes, that's right, I congratulate myself for both my small and major victories. In doing so, I would not constantly seek out the reaffirming words of others to keep me going.
This past week I was working on a tedious project at work that requires a ton of data mining. I was able to focus my attention long enough to get a bulk of the work done. One of the senior managers who would benefit directly from the information walked by my office just as I was completing a major section of the report. I wanted so badly to call her in and tell her about all of the work I had done. If I had done so, she would have congratulated me on my progress and told me how good of a job that I was doing. The kind words would supply some motivation but the motivation would be of the external variety and short-lived.
I decided that if I were to get motivated, it would absolutely have to come primarily from myself. Not only that, I would have to genuinely receive my congratulations just as it were coming from someone else. I could not discount the praise simply because I was the one providing it.
When I congratulated myself for the work I did, it went something like this:
"You did a great job maintaining your focus and concentrating on a high valued activity. The information you gathered will make a huge impact on the effectiveness of the business. As you keep up that determination you will find it easier to get more done in shorter amounts of time. You'll have that project done even before the deadline. You are awesome! Keep up the good work."
When I give personal praise, I can talk about obstacles I overcame like procrastination or constant interruptions. I can get into the details that someone on the outside looking in may not be aware of. Therefore, my congratulations means more to me than one given to me by others.
Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with receiving a kudos from your boss, friend, or family member. But relying solely on this type of praise is insufficient and addictive. You soon find yourself telling everyone every little thing you did just to get a small amount of praise. This gives too much power to others and takes away the power that you have to motivate yourself.
Starting today, make yourself your number one fan. If you do something wonderful, even if it is a small step, acknowledge it. Tell yourself how great of a job you did when you avoided snacking, woke up earlier, completed your do-to list, etc. Do not forget to list all of the details of how you did it and how well you did. Once you make yourself the primary source of your praise, any external recognition will just be icing on the cake.
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