What might your career have in common with a Project Runway designer?
Certain things can only be fully appreciated when you take a step back. Think of the difference Michelangelo experienced when he came down from his scaffolding and saw the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapelthat he had been painstakingly creating from just a few inches away.
You may not spend your days painting angels, but you are creating a body of work. When is the last time you took a step back and observed all that you accomplished over the last several years? Better yet, when is the last time you documented it?
Your Sistine Chapel is evolving every day, week and month. But, unless you have the equivalent of a Fitbit for your work accomplishments, you will forget the small wins and even the major victories. They recede from your mind as you anxiously tilt toward the future asking yourself, just as a boss might, what have you done for me lately?
In a recent episode of Project Runway, this point was driven home forcefully. The design challenge presented in episode 13 of season 19 required the contestants to envision their brand from “sky high” to create a look that establishes their brand as the next big thing in fashion.
As each designer entered the workroom, they saw their own 12 outfits created from previous challenges all lined up and displayed on mannequins. Using their own work as inspiration, along with help from branding experts, the designers had to discern through-lines, themes, messages and stories to create their signature style.
Despite having created each look themselves, the designers were in awe to see them accumulated from previous challenges since the show began. “Oh, my gosh,” said Chasity Sereal a designer from Houston, “I am super proud of how I’ve grown in this competition.” Designer Kristina Kharlashkina was similarly struck by her own work, “Wow, this is amazing!”
Seeing a mini-retrospective gave the designers perspective and the same can happen for you. Begin tracking your accomplishments and celebrating your success stories. Create a “me” file for every congratulatory note, every expression of appreciation and thank you.
Documenting success creates confidence and builds momentum in your career. It’s easier to embark on new endeavors when you have a running inventory of all you’ve done already. All the challenges you’ve faced, all the new things you’ve tried.
Don’t wait until you’re looking for a new role to refresh your resume. That’s not often enough to convince your brain that you’ve grown. It needs regular proof, so keep track of your wins and you will surely have more. Look at your “me file” when you need a lift or reminder that your Sistine Chapel is a work in progress.