Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Motivating yourself with a "win" board

One of my independent-creative friends joked that it's tough playing hooky when you work for yourself, because you're automatically busted. That set off a string of banter about there being no point to calling in sick, how it's awkward to give yourself an annual review, and the difficulty of reprimanding yourself.

The truth is, freelancing can be a pretty solitary enterprise if you let it. (Some prefer it that way!) And if you're in the business long enough, it can often seem like you've fallen into a feedback-free zone or a negative-feedback-only rut.

As a matter of practice, anytime I get an attaboy from a client--could be a thank you, or a compliment about a story, a positive anecdote, a great result from an advertising campaign--I print it out and push-pin it to a bulletin board on my wall. I'm a very internally motivated person, and I don't waste much time worrying about criticism, but there are times my "win" board serves as a reminder of why I do what I do. Even when things go sideways with one client, it sure helps to have a reminder that your skills have been appreciated by a horde of others.


  1. I like the idea of a win board! I use a "warm fuzzy" folder in my inbox, but I have to go seek it out when I want those reminders. Your solution is a good one.

    To your friend's point, though ... I still think it's wise to give yourself an annual review. I've received reviews from bosses in the past, and seldom did something appear about myself that I didn't already know. I believe that as independent practitioners, we should be able to be honest with ourselves and review our work. Personally, I used January 1 as review time — for me, it's less about the work itself and more about my business ... setting goals for pitching and self-marketing. Regardless of your individual goals, I think it's helpful to have them, and an annual review is one method of accountability.

  2. Stephanie, I totally agree about the value of periodic or regularly scheduled self-review. A book I just picked up a few weeks ago, "Getting Things Done" by David Allen, also emphasizes the weekly review as a tool of keeping yourself on track.