When is the last time you updated your resume? Not the one that reflects your employment history and career path, but the one that describes your life.

I thought about this recently after a friend of mine, who’s applying for a new job, asked if I would look at her resume and cover letter and give her some feedback. I did, suggesting a few slight changes in her wording and organization. She made the changes, and did some other minor editing. Neither one of us could believe how much of a difference it made in her application. And I couldn’t believe how much of a difference it made in her. The next time I saw her, she seemed more confident, upbeat, and enthusiastic than ever. Not just about the job opportunity, but about life in general.

I think there were two main reasons for this. One is that small changes can make a big difference. Not just on paper, but in life. The other is that seeing our accomplishments listed in black and white – as with a resume or professional biography – can help us see our lives and our achievements the way other people see them. And this can change the way we look at ourselves. It can help us focus on our strengths and talents, which is inspiring and energizing, instead of getting caught in our flaws and failures, which is draining and frustrating.

So maybe it’s time we all updated our resumes – listing our activities and accomplishments, and seeing where they led us and what we’ve done and become because of them.  And looking at small changes we’ve made in our lives, seeing the big impact they had on others and on ourselves.

Our life’s resume can also be a guide for what we’d like to do or become in the future. It can give us the courage and the confidence to get started. Knowing that small changes can bring about big results, we’ll realize that spending as little as 15 minutes a day on something we want to do or change – like exercising, reading, or organizing closets and cabinets – can add up over time, especially if it instills or strengthens a habit that will improve our lives in some way.  And even more so if that 15 minutes gradually increases to a full hour or more at a time.

Listing and analyzing our life’s activities and accomplishments will also help us see clearly what has given us the greatest joy and the deepest satisfaction through the years. It may open our eyes to some things about ourselves we didn’t even realize. And that can give us clarity, power, and motivation.

I don’t know yet whether my friend will get the new job she’s applying for. But I do know that she’s got a strong background, and taking a fresh look at all that she’s accomplished has given her new knowledge, new insights, and a new focus on where she wants to go in life.

Updating your life’s resume can do the same for you.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on January 15, 2015.
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

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