The life of a freelance trainer is often full of highs and lows, as it is for anyone who’s self-employed.

For all the good times, you may have times when you feel like you’ve lost your mojo or you don’t quite know what you’re doing (that pesky imposter syndrome has a lot to answer for!).

My antidote to this is to keep a ‘Success Folder’, i.e. a place to collect positive feedback to dip into every time I need a boost.

A Success Folder (or whatever name you choose to give it) can be online – a folder on your computer – or a physical book or file, depending on what works best for you.

Regardless of its format, it should be the place where you keep all the good things that people say about you and your business on social media, in emails, in reviews, in blog comments and in training feedback. You can even make a note of something complimentary a client said on the phone with a reminder about the context.

The power of positive feedback

The idea of a Success Folder might sound a bit self-indulgent but the truth is that the human brain is far better at hanging on to criticism than it is at listening to praise.

Apparently, the brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. Because negative feedback often provokes stronger emotions and deeper thought than positive feedback, we tend to remember negative things for longer and in more detail than something positive.

There’s an evolutionary purpose to remembering negative feedback for longer too – it keeps us alert to danger and protects us from making mistakes in the future.

Sometimes we just need to redress the balance by carving out a space to acknowledge and truly hear positive feedback. If we focus on the good stuff, we can help to embed it in our memories.

Positivity is what keeps most people motivated. It helps us to recognise that nothing is all bad. We humans want to be seen, valued and appreciated, and positive feedback can help to meet this need.

This is especially important for the times you work alone.

When you’re part of a team on a daily basis, there’s always someone to talk to about negative feedback or to gee you up when you need a push. This can be absent when you’re self-employed, even if you’re part of a strong network.

A Success Folder is a reminder of all the times you’ve got things right, made a difference or added value in some way. It doesn’t take the place of your network but it can drive you forward on the challenging days.

It’s may also tell you what your clients value, which can help you to tailor your training services in the future based on the feedback.

What goes around comes around

Positive feedback can be hard to take on board. You may feel a bit uncomfortable when people say nice things or bat off compliments with a self-deprecating comment. You may even be worried about sounding arrogant if you accept a compliment with a ‘Thank you’.

Accepting positive feedback takes practice, which is why a Success Folder is so important – the very act of putting kind words in a special place prevents us from sweeping them aside.

I also think that one way to become more open to recognising and accepting positive feedback is to spend more time giving it. If someone has gone above and beyond, tell them how much you appreciate their time or what a difference they’ve made.

The world could do with more positivity and maybe the recipient will add your words to their own Success Folder. Whatever happens, injecting positivity into your own day and that of others can only lead to good things.

Experts say that it takes five good events to overcome the psychological effects of one bad event. If you’re having a bad day, reading through your Success Folder might just be enough to get you back on track.

What have you got to lose?

Do you save positive comments to reflect back on? What was the last bit of positive feedback you received? Feel free to share it in the Comments below.

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