You may have heard a “thank you” goes a long way. Growing up, my mother used to make me produce hand-written thank you cards for every birthday, holiday, or any other random gift I received. The more gifts I got, the more cards I had to write; a dreaded chore. Sometimes I preferred getting fewer gifts so I would have less to thank you cards to write. Still, this habit instilled in me a sense of gratefulness that eventually helped me transform my career.
The act of expressing gratitude can either be a rote exercise or it can be a practice that leads to introspection and positive reflection. When you are regularly taking stock of what you have to be thankful for you have less time to spend thinking about what might be lacking. Frequently in the workplace we think of thankfulness as an external act, but we can extract even more value by maintaining a state of gratefulness in all we do.
Here are five simple ways being thankful can recharge your career:
An attitude of thankfulness makes you a problem solver. I once had a very challenging working situation. I was new to a team and hadn’t firmly established relationships. I was getting good feedback from my clients but my manager and I couldn’t see eye to eye on much of anything. There were many times when it seemed impossible to focus on anything other than what wasn’t going my way. Those were the times I felt regularly frustrated and stuck. Then there were the times when I woke up reflecting on the great work I was getting access to early in my career and was thankful. Those were the days I came in determined to find solutions to making it work with my manager. When you are seeking change in careers, face challenges at work, clash with colleagues, it may seem easier to identify what isn’t going your way. If you instead make the decision to employ an attitude of gratitude, you position yourself to be a problem-solver.
Being thankful makes you magnetic. The first law of attraction is gratitude. A constant complainer sucks the energy out of the room by pointing out all of the issues. Being the one who can reframe a situation and point out the opportunities makes you the team member others want to work and consult with.
Being thankful increases your confidence. I worked with two colleagues on an adjacent team who shared the same frustrating situation with an unfortunately bad manager. The manager struggled to give helpful feedback and was not an advocate for her team. Their growth was stunted in their positions and it was a challenging situation. One became very bitter and complained constantly. Every day seemed to be a bad day and when she had interview opportunities she couldn’t deliver. The other smiled every day, telling me and other colleagues that this challenge was such a good learning and growth opportunity. She even brought fresh flowers into the office each week to uplift everyone’s mood. Her gratitude kept her confidence high and instead of staying stuck, she soon found herself with a new job.
Being thankful keeps you goal-oriented. About three years ago, I purchased a big whiteboard to jot down all my goals, big and small. I wrote educational and financial goals, family goals, and all my other professional hopes. It hung above my bed but I generally forgot about it. After one discouraging workday this year, I came home and decided to pull it off the wall. I hadn’t looked at it in years. I was stunned to see that some of the things I hoped for years ago were happening. When I was ready to quit, seeing I was closer to my goals pushed me to keep going. Nothing will keep you more focused on success than realizing how many successes you’ve already had, both big and small. Celebrating small victories serves as reinforcement that you are closer to finishing than you were when you started.
Being thankful empowers others. Showing gratefulness shines light on the greatness of others. Everyone needs recognition and affirmation in authentic ways. Think about a time you received positive feedback from a manager or colleague. Maybe what you did was small to you, but the appreciation they expressed made you feel that you made a big impact. A simple gesture or word can encourage ignite action that benefits the whole team. It is also the one gift that you can give that benefits both you and the recipient.
*The thank you card above is available here.*