How to Give Yourself Credit [and Why It Matters]

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I don’t think everyone should get a medal. But give yourself credit for small things.

You have done things in your life that you can be proud of.

Give yourself credit!

From time to time, you may feel that you don’t amount to much. Specially, when the times are hard and bad things happen, you may lose your faith in yourself.

But this is not true. Here’s why you have to give yourself more credit to improve your life.

give yourself credit

For example, think of the time you helped your friend. That was all you.

When you are a runner, it doesn’t matter if you run 6-minute miles or it takes you 20. The fact that you are a runner is enough, give yourself credit.

Can’t run?

Go for a walk! Walking is the most effective way to exercise and keep yourself healthy.

If you are struggling with your child, it may feel you are not doing enough. But you are, give yourself some credit. If you are doing anything, then at the end of the day, look back and decide that it was enough for the day.

Give yourself credit for that day.

When I quit smoking and put on some weight, I understood that I need to exercise. I started running as the easiest way to burn lots of calories.

I hated running.

It took me a long time to get into running. I started by running for 4 minutes and then walking for 4 minutes for 20 minutes a day. I was happy with the results and gave myself a pat on the back. It wasn’t hard, but it was enough to give myself credit.

It’s Your Decision

Decide that what you do is enough, and you are worthy. Give it your best shot and be content with the results.

give yourself credit quote Wiest

Give yourself credit. You are doing so much better than you think you are. You are so much more accomplished than you know. — Brianna Wiest

Know your “why”

Set a goal!

A small one.

Maybe even smaller.

You may want ripped abs, but you are 30 pounds overweight.

Your vision may be that you build a business that makes millions. But you are broke now.

You may want to run a marathon, but the last time you ran was in high school.

Make sure your goals are something you want and not meant to impress your friends and relatives. They will be impressed, but if you need external motivation, then you are much more likely to fail. When you do things because of you, then you are much more likely to achieve them.

Next step: Set your goal and spend 10 minutes thinking about why you want it. Better yet, write down the why and the steps that get you there.

Be kind to yourself

How to give yourself credit?

Every step in the right direction counts. Positive reinforcement is the best kind of reinforcement:

Change your negative self-talk

Negative self-talk happens when something goes wrong.

It can be you blaming yourself for what happened or telling yourself that you deserve this negative outcome. In the first case, you are downplaying your abilities, and in the other, you question your worth as a human being. But this is not the way to improve your life. Don’t beat yourself up every time something doesn’t go the way you intended or expected.

Next step: Notice every time you say something negative about yourself to yourself. Stop and reframe the situation in a positive way. For example, when you forget to do something, you are not stupid; you were distracted, or you have a stressful day.

Celebrate your victories, large and small

Celebrating your achievements will give you a sense of accomplishment.

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Celebrating will also mark the end of something. You will get closure and can move to new things. Don’t wait too long to celebrate, chunk things down to smaller pieces and celebrate small victories.

Next step: Find something you just completed or will complete shortly and find a small way to celebrate it. Something that makes you happy.

Take a day off when you feel overwhelmed

Schedule at least one day per month when you only do what you want to do.

Plan for the day off so you don’t have any chores and other people will not fill your day with their requests. It’s not the day off if you have to clean the house, visit relatives, wash your car, mow the lawn or other such activities. Unless you decide in advance to do those things as something that relaxes you.

Next step: You are not your best self if you are overwhelmed. Find a day when you can take a day off. It can be a weekend. If at all possible, make it a day inside of the week.

Find the good in bad situations

As Jason Mraz puts it in the song  “I’m Yours”

To win some or learn some.

Whatever happens, there’s usually a positive intent behind it from the offending side. People usually mean well, and bad things are communication errors and accidents. Judge others’ behavior by the intention they had. Judge your actions by what happened.

Next step: For the next 10 days, find something good in every mishap or a bad thing that happens to you. What can you learn from it? Can you avoid it in the future?

Every step you take, every effort you make, is keeping the momentum going, and it is worth that you give yourself credit for it. You are skilled enough and strong enough to take the next step. You decide what the next step is! Make it so you can take that step and give yourself some credit for the effort you made.

Anne Sweeney success quote

Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live. ~ Anne Sweeney

Don’t sweat it!

Find just one thing you can give yourself credit for and be happy for it. And repeat it tomorrow and the day after that. Make it a habit that you find every day something to give yourself credit for.

What can you give yourself credit for?

I know you can read! This is the kind of mental power I have.

With the coming of a better text to speech technology, this sentence may not hold in the future. The literacy rate in the world is 86.3 percent. List everything you have achieved. Write it down:

  • What did you do in school?
  • Maybe you handle a computer better than your peers.
  • Can you swim?
  • Maybe your cooking is great?
  • Have you helped someone just because you can?
  • Are you good at making your friends laugh?
  • Do you know all the lyrics of your favorite band?
  • Did you make your bed this morning?
  • Can you boil an egg?
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Make a list of all the things you have accomplished. Learning to walk and talk is something most of us have mastered, but it was an accomplishment when you did it.

I have run more than 100 kilometers, but I still remember how proud I was when I ran my first 10k. The time when I first got to 20k, I was ecstatic and slept for three hours after the run.

Don’t devalue the past because you are now much better.

I can’t remember the source but one of my all-time favorite things to give yourself credit for is:

Every day is your new personal best at consecutive days alive.

Be kind to yourself.

Next step: Write a list of things that you can do, but most other people can’t. One thing is OK, but maybe you can find two or three or even more.

give yourself more credit quote Milne

Always remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you had ever imagined. – A. A. Milne

Consistency is the key

One day in the gym, writing one blog post, or running your first mile is a victory. Give yourself some credit and then do it again the next day. Persistence is the key! Inconsistency is your biggest enemy. Try not to skip more than one day when building a habit.

Next step: Whenever you want to start a new habit, do it in small steps. Small enough that you can do them every day. You can increase the effort after the habit has taken root.

Give Yourself Credit to be more optimistic

Trust me, you want to be more optimistic. One study showed that:

Optimism is a psychological attribute characterized as the general expectation that good things will happen or the belief that the future will be favorable because one can control important outcomes. The results suggest that optimism is specifically related to 11 to 15% longer life span, and to greater odds of achieving “exceptional longevity,” that is, living to the age of 85 or beyond. Previous studies showed that more optimistic individuals are less likely to suffer from chronic diseases and die prematurely.

The key to happiness is low expectations

It is your choice to believe that you did a great job, and it is enough. There’s a joke that the key to happiness is low expectations. It is not a joke!

For example, some people beat themselves up when they miss a million-dollar goal by 10,000 dollars. Others see every day is their new personal best at consecutive days alive.

As long as you keep improving, you can do incredible feats. A little better every day means a massive improvement over months and years.

And don’t forget to celebrate every once in a while.

Now pat yourself on the back! Create a long list of things you have accomplished in your life.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step. - Lao Tzu

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step. – Lao Tzu

Image: Fireworks by Guus Krol
Image: Anne Sweeney by Disney

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Pingback: How to Stop Your Negative Self-Talk [in 4 Easy Steps] - @FixWillpower

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  4. marquita herald

    Well said Priit! We get so busy with the noise of everyday living it’s easy to overlook the small but significant accomplishments. One thing that helps me is keeping a journal of achievements. I don’t spend a lot of time on it, just jot down notes at the end of the day, but it serves as a great reminder from time to time when I’m feeling less than kind toward myself. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Priit Kallas

      Thanks Marquita. Your site is a constant stream of great ideas for me! As is the idea of keeping a journal of achievements.

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Priit Kallas

Founder of I created FixWillpower to help you reach your goals. I have struggled my entire life to be consistent and avoid procrastination. The goal is to have a good life, do the things you love and get your results with minimum effort. FixWillpower website is about how I create motivation and productivity in my life. I write about the tools and techniques, best books, scientific research, and everything else that helps you move faster and stay on track. Minimum effort doesn’t mean slacking off. Minimum effort is about effectiveness and productivity. If there is a way to reach a goal in a shorter time or with less exertion, then you should use that. I will help you be smarter and reach goals faster. About FixWillpower