Do you have accomplishment amnesia?

Accomplishment amnesia is a common ailment that strikes many of us, particularly those of us that are highly conscientious, responsible, talented, and highly sensitive. It seems to run in parallel with these traits.

What is accomplishment amnesia?

Accomplishment amnesia occurs when we get so busy meeting our obligations and moving on to the “next thing” that we quickly forget what we’ve done in the past (however distant or recent) that has value.

I find this malady particularly comes up when we get into a place of self-doubt — we can’t remember a single thing we’ve done or accomplished. We feel useless, talentless, valueless.

We might even feel creatively blocked or numb because we are devaluing the work we’ve done but are not appreciating.

A darn good job

I’ve been going through a rough patch lately, and I noticed recently that as I’ve been starting to feel better, I’ve been berating myself for not having done more lately. “Why am I so behind? How have I let things get like this?”

I stopped myself and noticed what was really going on: I had accomplishment amnesia.

I quickly reminded myself of all the personal challenges I’ve faced over the last couple of months, including having surgery on my wrist, and shifted the conversation to noticing what I have done: filed my taxes, settled a car accident claim, dealt with an intensely difficult emotional time, never missed writing a blog post, coached my clients, continued running my Writer’s Circle, and carried on writing my screenplay no matter what. Wow! I’ve accomplished a lot under very difficult circumstances.

Sure, there’s more, there always is. But look at what I’ve done!

Does this happen for you too?

Most of my clients have this kind of accomplishment amnesia. They’re so focused on what they haven’t done, that they forget to celebrate what they have.

Here’s how you can start to shift out of this delusion that you haven’t done anything worthwhile:

1. Catch accomplishment amnesia early.

When you notice yourself falling into the pattern (like I did), stop and take stock. Is it really true that you haven’t been doing enough? Take a few minutes to review what you actually have done. You’ll be surprised.

2. Don’t buy into the standard definitions of success and accomplishment.

Don’t limit yourself to society’s success definitions. Instead, think about what you’re proud of. Create your own definition of what it means to be successful.

Just yesterday, my writers and I were discussing what it means to claim the title of “writer.” Many of us are discovering it has much less to do with being a published or sold writer (though many of us are striving for those), and everything to do with showing up and doing the writing regularly — having a writing practice.

3. Set small milestones.

Increase your sense of accomplishment by setting and celebrating small milestones as you attain them. Instead of only celebrating when you complete the book, whoop it up for every chapter. Then when you do hit the finish line, make sure you celebrate that point too.

I’m rewriting my screenplay using Chris Soth’s “Mini Movie Method,” which lends itself nicely to this sort of milestone assessment. Every 15 pages I complete another mini-movie, so it’s easy to create a sense of accomplishment as I go.

Look for similar small milestones in your own work.

4. Celebrate your accomplishments in the moment.

I watched a fun video of Tamara Ireland Stone, author of the young adult book, Time Between Us,* which I just finished reading and very much enjoyed. She had just received her box of copies of her book and made a point to celebrate with her husband and friend and glass of wine. I hope she’ll do the same for every future book as well.

When you do have an accomplishment, STOP what you’re doing and celebrate. Build the muscles of appreciation for yourself and your work.

5. Create a “brag book.”

I’ve forgotten where I first heard this term, but the idea is to create a scrap book of your accomplishments so that you can go back and remind yourself, “Yes, I’ve done some amazing, wonderful things.” And you have. Include anything and everything you can think of that you’ve accomplished. On my list: birthing my son, finishing my first screenplay, completing graduate school and earning two master’s degrees, nurturing an incredible friendship with my best friend, becoming a certified life coach, etc.

Bottom line

It’s all too easy to think of ourselves as never reaching the finish line when there’s always so much more to do. Rather than thinking you’ll never get there, remember to enjoy what you’re doing along the way. It’s the journey, after all, that counts.

Your turn

Click here to tell me what you think. I always love to read your feedback.








Why it requires courage to write

This is part of a series on “How to Find the Courage to Share the Stories You Are Longing To Tell.”

Today’s post starts the series with thoughts on “Why It Requires Courage to Write.”

Why it requires courage to write

Special thanks to John Klymshyn for this image

I’ve dreamed of writing for years, since I was a child. And I have. Over the last 9 years I’ve written hundreds of articles, blog posts, and newsletters through my coaching business. Before that, I wrote city plans. Before that, my graduate thesis.

But I’ve always dreamed of writing a proper something — a larger writing project with a definitive end, like a book or a screenplay.

Somehow, I never seemed to find the time to write until recently — just in the last year or so. And now I’m writing on a daily basis, soon to finish my first feature length screenplay.

What I didn’t understand, until now, was that my lack of writing WAS NOT tied to all the things I believed about what it would take for me to write, like that I needed more time, better ideas, sudden divine inspiration, the proper writing space, a better computer, or any of the other things I was telling myself.

Instead, I discovered that what was going on at a deeper level was that I was afraid. I was afraid to write.

And this is what I’ve seen with many people who say they want to write but aren’t doing it.

Just like me, they are afraid.

Common fears

If you have fear coming up around writing, you might be experiencing some of these common concerns I hear from writers:

  • You’re afraid the writing you’re longing to share isn’t serious, artistic, engaging, funny, clever, dramatic, or fill-in-the-blank enough.
  • You’re afraid that you’ll embarrass yourself if you put your words out there for other people to see.
  • You’re afraid that you won’t be able to do a good enough job telling your stories — you won’t be able to do them justice and you’ll let your ideas down.
  • You’re afraid you won’t be able to come with good ideas.
  • You’re afraid that other people will be hurt if you write things they don’t like. You’re afraid they will see themselves in your stories and be offended.
  • You’re afraid you don’t know how to write well enough, but you don’t give yourself the chance to learn how because you believe that writing requires innate talent and that if you had it, you’d already be writing.
  • You might even be afraid that your best work is already behind you.

What you need to understand is that these fears are ONLY fears. Nothing more, nothing less. They MAY come true, we may fall on our faces and have to pick ourselves up again, just like my son did on his way to school this morning.

You also need to understand that these fears are your ENEMIES. They are the enemies to your dream of writing, and courage is your antidote.

Your turn

What does this illuminate for you? Share your responses in the comments.

And stay tuned for the next post in this series coming your way tomorrow, “How to Spot the Stealthy Smokescreens that Stop You From Writing.” Watch for it on the blog or subscribe here.

About the Writer’s Circle

I inspire writers to find the courage to share the stories they are secretly longing to tell but are afraid won’t be heard or welcomed. If you’d like company on your writer’s journey, I want to invite you to join the next session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle, which starts this coming Monday, February 20th. In the Writer’s Circle, you’ll find the peer support and accountability you need to find the courage you need to see your writing through. Registration closes THIS THURSDAY, February 16th.

Find out more and register here:

“I would have really struggled to do this without this writer’s group.”

I loved the community, and how quickly it came together. It made such a difference to have that support and it was so good to take the isolation of writing away. I love that my writing has quickly started to establish into my daily routine. I would have really struggled to do this without this group. I’m more creative, more productive, and starting to identify as a writer… it’s so exciting! If you’re considering this course, GO FOR IT!!!
~ Rebekah Shepherd, Yoga teacher, Writer,