The end of the year is a natural time for self reflection. It’s an opportunity to take stock and consider the accomplishments you made over the past 12 months. The big things are usually obvious. You made these hires, you worked on these projects, you shipped these features and, if you’re lucky, have some positive stats to show for the work. However the details are always a little bit fuzzy.
“I remember the past few months pretty well, but the start of the year is a bit of a blur. I remember getting some good feedback from my team about the work I did on that particular project, but I didn’t jot down exactly what was said. I remember having that really important meeting which I spent ages preparing for. I recall it going really well, and feeling really positive about the outcome, but honestly can’t remember the details? Oh, and there was that big confrontation with marketing about that feature we thought was a dark pattern. How did that play out again?
Now that I think about it, I’m really struggling to remember what impact I’ve made over the past 12 months. I feel like it’s been a good year, but I don’t have that much I can actually point to. Uh oh. The imposter syndrome is starting to kick in. Maybe I haven’t achieved that much after all? My performance review is coming up soon. What am I going to say? I wish I’d taken better notes at the time”.
Taking Better Notes
This is an all too common experience. While the big wins are obvious, we take the small wins for granted, and they quickly drift from our mind. As such we can often find ourselves looking back at the year wondering what we’ve actually accomplished, or struggling to justify what we’ve been doing with our time (and why we deserve that promotion) in our yearly review. This is where the idea of a “brag document” comes in.
Brag documents are essentially a running list of all your achievements throughout the year, both big and small. Had a great meeting? Put it in your brag document. Helped out a colleague? Put it in your brag document. Delivered a project you’re especially proud of? Maybe it solved a specific problem or hit some important KPIs? Put it in your brag document.