IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Why celebrating your progress in 2019 is crucial for long-term success

It's the time of year when lawmakers boast to their constituents all they accomplished. It makes sense — if they don't talk about their success, who will? This is true for all of us, say political strategists Susan Del Percio and Adrienne Elrod
From left to right: Adrienne Elrod, Mika Brzezinski, Susan Del Percio
From left to right: Adrienne Elrod, Mika Brzezinski, Susan Del PercioTravis W Keyes

When reflecting on 2019, many of us will look back at what we didn’t get done, kicking ourselves for the goals we failed to meet or the promotion that never materialized. Instead, try something new: reflect on what you did well.

Sure, looking ahead and making a New Year’s resolution is great. But don’t forget to stop and take a victory lap and recognize your accomplishments. Perhaps you learned a new skill, delivered a fantastic presentation or expanded your networking circle. No matter what it was, be proud of it. It is that recognition that will give you a new sense confidence and motivation going into 2020.

The reason your inbox is flooded this time of year with company newsletters and elected officials doling out their legislative achievements is because this is how they show their employees, clients and constituents what they have accomplished. After all, if they don’t boast their successes, who will? This is true for all of us.


Susan’s reflection: After working with a political client for six months, it was time to renew my contract for the following year. Unexpectedly the client reneged on the deal and made a “take-it or leave-it” counteroffer, which I didn’t take.

The unintended consequence of the counteroffer was, upon reflecting on the year, I realized I did a great job for them. That recognition gave me the confidence and the courage to decline the offer and to pursue a different project, which was very rewarding professionally.

Being able to identify your accomplishments keeps you positive, especially when looking toward your new goals. While setting your goals for next year, take a moment to see how you can build on some positive experiences from the previous year.

Adrienne’s reflection: Working on campaigns is an intense experience unlike anything else, but you always know the job is typically over on Election Day. Then it’s on you to figure out your next move and how to capitalize on your campaign experience.

Years ago, I started keeping track of all the fantastic people I’ve worked with on various campaigns, then set a goal to reach out to each one of them throughout the following year. This allowed me to think of the positive experiences I had at different points in my year with different people on different campaigns. It also gave me a jumping off point to start the new year. By looking back, I was able to refresh my list of contacts and create a goal for the following year.

It is not only 100 percent okay to recognize the good things you have done, it’s critical for your future planning because when you do, it is extremely motivating. We asked Holly Harris, president and executive director of the Justice Action Network about her end-of-the year process.

Holly Harris’s reflection: At the Justice Action Network, we battle to make our justice system fairer and more effective. The losses can be heartbreaking, and the wins never seem like enough.

Recently, I remarked I was “getting used to rejection,” to my friend Alice. With a hearty laugh she responded, “Try getting denied clemency after serving twenty years in prison for a non-violent drug offense.” It was a clarifying moment.

It is okay, indeed essential, to lean into our victories. In 2019, we passed a groundbreaking bill that freed thousands from prison; this year we hope to pass another that opens up jobs to millions of Americans with criminal records. I celebrate those accomplishments for Alice and for me, and for every other woman who needs hope this holiday season.

Susan and Adrienne: By taking an end-of-the-year inventory and recognizing your achievements, you build your self-confidence, create a list of accomplishments that can be used to update your resume or professional profile and energize yourself with a new sense of motivation for the year ahead. A positive internal reflection process not only gives you a sense of pride but may also be the determination you need to ask for that promotion you know you deserve.

Susan Del Percio is a New York-based Republican strategist and Adrienne Elrod is a Washington, D.C.-based Democratic strategist. Their column, "Politicking for Success" appears bi-weekly on NBC News' Know Your Value