Self-employment has some downsides. One is that you rarely get a lot of positive feedback. There are no celebratory luncheons or bosses giving you pats on the back. (I know, I know, there aren’t that many happy moments in regular employment, either.)
When I was starting out, someone told me to keep a file called Nice Stuff. Then, whenever someone said something nice about my work, I should put a copy of it in the file. When I’m having a bad day, I should go through it to be reminded that what I do makes a difference.
I’m not generally a cheery or sentimental person, but I do have a Nice Stuff folder. The folder itself was my work folder way back in college, when I worked for one of my professors. One of the other people in the office was an aspiring illustrator, and she made folders for each of us with a cartoon image rather than our names. I still have it, all these years later.
In it, I have positive course evaluations, thank you notes, and complements from editors. Today, I added an email from a client I had last summer. I was part of a team that worked on the overhaul of a major financial company’s website, and it was not easy to explain IRS regulations in a way that satisfied the compliance officers. The client forwarded a comment from one of the company’s customers:
“I want to THANK the person/people behind the writing of that entire filibuster-worthy of excellent communication and brevity in its clarity. Your entire learning center online is a pleasure to read, browse, search and sleuth forward into interesting ideas and concepts I had not known of.”
How nice is that?
If you don’t have your own Nice Stuff folder, I suggest setting one up. Right now. Start putting in all the Nice Stuff that comes your way, no matter how trivial it seems. Believe me, one day, you’ll be feeling crummy, and that thank you note for talking to your kid’s class on Career Day will make all the difference.