Numerous articles have been written about the benefits of being grateful, improved health, increased optimism and, very importantly, happiness. Grateful people are happy people. It’s been said that it’s not the happiest people who are the most grateful but rather grateful people who are the happiest. What are you grateful for? Family, friends, your health? All these things are very important. But, have you thought about being grateful for your career?
I doubt many include “career” in their list of things they are grateful for. Some may be very happy with their careers but fail to express gratitude. Why? It just doesn’t occur to them. Others, less satisfied, are much more likely to point out everything that is wrong or bad with their careers, not being appreciated, not making enough money, a lousy boss and a whole host of other complaints. Some or all of these complaints may be true for you too as you think about your career. With our upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I am going to challenge you to express gratitude for your career. Let’s look at few areas worthy of your gratitude, things you may not have thought about. We will also examine how gratitude can actually improve your career.
Intrinsic value: purpose, meaning, making a difference for others.
No matter what career you have, there is always an opportunity to make a difference for others. Making a difference for others fulfills us and brings us joy. If you are in a leadership position, being invested in your employees’ success and career aspirations, making time to address their concerns, mentoring and supporting them, this will go a very long way towards making a difference. If you are in a professional role but have no direct reports, there are many ways you can make a difference. Lend an ear or provide some support to those who may be struggling. Share your expertise for those who aspire to a position like yours.
Being in a healthcare leadership position for over 25 years, I knew I was making a difference for the physicians and care teams I supported, and it made my career so fulfilling. Now, as a professional life and leadership coach, I am totally fulfilled and tremendously happy every time I work with clients and get positive feedback about the difference I am making in their lives.
Knowledge and experience, making a difference for yourself.
Take every opportunity to learn and grow professionally. After becoming proficient in your existing position, take the time to learn all about the next one you are interested in. Ask your boss for stretch assignments, opportunities to work at a higher level or in a different work setting. Your current job may not be your ultimate career destination but it is likely preparing you in one way or another for the next opportunity, even if the next one isn’t even in the same field.
I was initially trained as a professional coach about 12 years ago while I was working as a healthcare administrator thinking I could build a practice on the side but because of the demands on my time, this was not possible; however, I was able to coach in my healthcare career with those who reported to me. It was tremendously fulfilling to see my direct reports rise to new levels in the organization, in part, due to my efforts. When I left my healthcare career, I pursued additional training, became certified and started my own professional coaching business. It was my 25-year healthcare career that played a big part in giving me the experience and skills that have led to my success as a professional life and leadership coach today.
Building Professional Relationships, an investment in your future.
When you are thankful, you attract people to you. People like to be around grateful people. When you show gratitude, you will have many who are interested in investing in your future, mentors and executive sponsors. They want to help, want to be invested in your success. Never underestimate the value of building a professional network. These individuals can help you get from where you are to where you want to be with your career.
I’ve had many people supporting me throughout my career. Some support came from my direct boss but, honestly, most came from other professional relationships I’ve developed. To this day, I still reach out to these individuals for advice and feedback, and as an added bonus, many have become lifelong friends.
These are just three examples of areas we can be grateful for with our careers. I’m certain there are many others. I didn’t mention the obvious which is your career provides financial support for you and your family. While money is clearly important, there are numerous studies that show it is not the number one driver of employee job satisfaction. Certainly, we need to be grateful that we have a job but I think there are other equally, if not more important, benefits to be grateful for with our careers. Take some time this Thanksgiving holiday to reflect on all you can be grateful for with your career.
To develop an attitude of gratitude, I found a good exercise that may be helpful to you. Beth Yarzab, in her October 23, 2018 article, “Using a Gratitude Practice to Amplify Your Career Success,” she suggests the following gratitude exercise:
Start with using a beautiful journal, put pen to paper and follow the exercise below. Ms. Yarzab suggests doing this exercise as part of your early morning routine but I think it would work equally well if done as a night-time ritual as well. I’ve adapted this exercise to reflect career as the main topic but it can be used for anything we wish to express gratitude for.
Write at least 10 things you are grateful for with your career:
- 3-4 that already exist
- 3-4 that you want in your career. Write these in the present tense as if they’re already in
your possession, much like an affirmation.
- 3-4 annoyances or frustrations that I change my perspective on. I turn them into positives and look internally to see how to shift my mindset so I feel better now.
Then, re-read your list and say it out loud. This helps lock in gratitude, develop a healthy mindset, and increase your happiness.
Do this for 30 days and notice what good fortune comes to you.
Your career might not have been among the things you mentioned when sharing all you are grateful for this Thanksgiving but I invite you to look deep within to discover there are many benefits, so much to be grateful for, with your career. Try the 30-day exercise and see how it changes your perspective, increases your joy and makes a positive impact on your career. I am very grateful for my faith, my family, my friends and my career.
I am also very grateful to you, my readers. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!