Why You Should Keep An Accomplishments Box

Once you have your list of dreams and goals down, an accomplishments box will help you know you’re making progress.

Why You Should Keep An Accomplishments Box
[Photo: Flickr user Kenny Louie]

If you are like me, you have an ongoing list of all the things you’re meant to do, or want to do: today, tomorrow, this week, this year, even this lifetime! It can be easy to get overwhelmed about what to do next, and it’s surprisingly common to feel like there is always more you could be doing.


A year ago I wrote about the importance of consciously architecting your life with a little thing called the life audit, a simple method for identifying the core values that inspire you, and prioritizing your life’s goals and aspirations in line with them.

The life audit ended up having a life of its own, and it helped me, and many others, remember and internalize the personal mantras we wish to live by, to honor daily intentions, and to connect those to our growing list of goals and habits.

But there was one question that came up from readers time and time again: Once I’ve outlined my aspirations, how will I know I’m making progress? How will I know I’m doing well?

The answer? By keeping what I like to call an “accomplishments box.”

Equally important as charting out your aspirations and intentions is tracking your progress and celebrating your accomplishments. Here’s how it works:

1. Write It Down

Whenever I do something I’m proud of, I write it on a piece of paper, fold it in half, and put it in my accomplishments box. Get a promotion? Put it in the box. Finally quit your family’s cell phone plan? Throw it in the box. Fall in love? Grab that box.


These can be accomplishments tied to a current life audit goal or not: Unexpected accomplishments may crop up along the way, and those should be celebrated, too.

If you’re specifically trying to track life audit accomplishments, just jot those down on a different-colored paper from the rest. Write only one accomplishment per card so you can physically see the impact of your success. Whether your progress is incremental or monumental, it feels good to see it on paper.

2. Keep It Visible

Note that your box doesn’t have to be a box, but it does have to be visible. It can be a glass jar, a vase, or even a wall if you prefer. The important thing is that it’s visible and available to you to return to as often as you’d like and to remind yourself of all the great things you’ve been up to.

3. Make Time For Review

Once a quarter, make a point of setting aside time to sift through your accomplishments. Create a calendar invite as a reminder if you’d like. Grab a handful and surprise yourself with what you’ve achieved. Read through every single one. Recognize which accomplishments still feel big months later, and which feel run-of-the-mill now–either because your priorities have changed or because you are so darned good at that now that it hardly feels like an accomplishment anymore.

4. Repeat

When a year is up, start a new accomplishments box, but save your accomplishments from the previous year. Reflecting on all the wonderful things you’ve experienced and achieved over the year brings gratitude and makes way for new outcomes and opportunities in the next year. There are lots of benefits to celebrating your wins: When you see how far you’ve come, you feel better, think bigger, and go forth with more confidence.

And the really nice thing? Your accomplishments box is your personal treasure chest–you can check it as often as you’d like. Open it when you need a reminder of everything you’re capable of; of the people who have opened doors and helped you seize those opportunities; of the thought partners who have helped you deepen your skills in areas that you later succeeded in. Open it when you want to celebrate yourself, your support system, your luck, your natural talents and abilities, your hard work and spirit. Your box is a great physical reminder of that.

About the author

Ximena Vengoechea is a design researcher, writer, and illustrator whose work on personal and professional development has been published in Inc., Newsweek, and the Huffington Post. She currently works at Pinterest as a qualitative researcher.