During a dinner with friends I mentioned an e-mail I'd received from a 13-year-old thanking me for the way my commentaries had influenced his life. I was clearly proud of the note, and Sally Kinnamon said I should save this and other affirming mementos and put them in a "Me File."
At first I thought she was being sarcastic, but she assured me she was quite serious. Sally came upon the idea while training in-home nurses who often work in isolated conditions with little or no affirmative feedback.
She gave each nurse an empty folder labeled "Me" and instructed them to put every form of grateful or complimentary feedback into the file, including cards, notes, letters, and positive performance reviews. She said that this folder should be taken out and read whenever any of them felt unappreciated or questioned the value of their work.
Sally acknowledged that most of the nurses were initially reluctant, fearing it was too self-indulgent, egotistical, or just plain silly, but she explained that it's not a bragging file to show others how good we are. Rather, it's a private collection evidencing the large and small triumphs that give us psychic gratification and reconnect us with the best reasons we do what we do. Eventually, she said, most of the nurses came to use and draw great comfort and encouragement from their "Me Files."
What a terrific idea! You ought to start a "Me File" for yourself and put in it anything that validates what you do at work or home.
The next step, of course, is to be sure you're spending time doing the kinds of things that will fill your "Me File."