This week it’s easy to think about being thankful. But what about at 6AM when the alarm goes off on Monday morning? Does career and gratitude mix? I happen to think so.
Stick with me – We’ll get there. We all have days when it’s difficult to feel grateful for much of anything. I remember a time not long ago when I felt like the world was totally against me and appreciation was the last thing on my mind. It’s easy to feel thankful when life is great, but some of the most surprising reasons for gratitude can show up during your darkest days.
When was the last time you consciously gave thanks for your job? Your customers and co-workers? Your boss?
Think about it. We spend at least 1/3 of our lives at work. How do you feel about your job? Do you wake up in the morning excited to take on the day, or do you repeatedly hit the snooze button, hiding under the covers until the last possible moment?
Attitude is a huge part of success (and just about everything else in life). It can’t be faked for long. If negativity is your best friend, it will slowly seep into your relationships with peers, clients, and family. You may not notice at first, but others will. It will eventually impact your quality of life.
Negative energy begets negative energy, creating a downward spiral unless you do something to stop the slide. Cultivating gratitude is a proven way to change your perspective. This is important because your success potential dramatically increases when you shift your attitude from negative to positive.
Here’s 3 Reasons To Be Grateful For Where You Are In Your Career Right Now
We get so used to measuring our professional successes against others, or complaining about workday grievances or co-workers, stopping and intentionally being appreciative about where you are in your career at this exact moment isn’t second nature. But, there are a few reasons I think you should stop and be grateful for what’s happening in your career right now. Yes, right now (and not next week, next month, or next year).
- You’re Learning And Growing: Each new work experience we have is a learning experience. It’s not always about adding a tangible skill. Maybe you’ve conquered your emotions or learned how to better deal with stress. But I also hope you’re learning more about what roles and responsibilities you enjoy. And on the flip side, which ones you hope you never have to do again. I hope you’re learning about the type of culture you want to work in – what type of work environment do you thrive in. And what type of leaders do you respond to or wish to emulate? It’s good to be grateful for this type of knowledge.
- You’re Learning New Skills : I hope you are working for a company that is investing in you. Or I hope you are taking every opportunity to invest in yourself. It’s important continue building on your skill set. Every position you hold offers bog and small things you can use to beef up your resume and help you reach your next role. Even those jobs that come with “soul-sucking” bosses can be a steppingstone for bigger and greater. They can teach you how to assert your needs, work with difficult people, or become more resilient. So, take a moment to appreciate your current role—even if it’s not exactly where you want to be. Think about how it’s laying the groundwork for where you want to go.
- You’re Making Connections: Be thankful for your network now and the one you will continue to grow. It will be one of your greatest assets as a professional, and it’s something that you should work to build in each stage of your career. Who’s your network? Your bosses, coworkers, vendors, clients, the people you stand in the coffee line with, who you go to church with, who you volunteer with…you get it. They’re all people you’re adding to your network of contacts who might be able to help you with references, informational interviews, job shadowing, introductions, opportunities, advice, and more. Some achievements aren’t measured on paper. Take time to take stock of the relationships you’ve grown and let them know they matter to you.
Does Gratitude Only Apply When You Have A Job?
Times are weird right now (thank you COVID, inflation, the great resignation and feel free to add any other crazy things which have happened during the last 18 months) and there are plenty of people are facing major career struggles as a result.
Layoffs, furloughs, or working for a company that’s on shaky footing create a lot of anxiety, and that makes it’s tough to find the silver linings. I know practicing gratitude in these situations is going to require some extra commitment and maybe even some soul searching, but it’s still worth trying. Even if that minds finding the smallest things to be thankful for—like someone in your network who offered to make a valuable introduction, or the time to step back and reevaluate your career ambitions.
Things are hard right now, but they won’t stay that way forever. Better things could be headed your way.
I’ve mentioned before that January and February are prime job searching months. If you’re actively seeking a new position or hope to do so in the New Year, now is your opportunity to add a healthy dose of gratitude to your job search. Not only will it improve your mindset, but gratitude can increase your opportunities for success.
Here’s how expressing thanks can differentiate you in the job search…
- You’ll stand out If you’re seeking a job, you might be surprised by how many people forget the important follow-up factor when interviewing. By expressing your appreciation throughout the job search process, you’ll differentiate yourself from other candidates. Letting others know they have helped you also makes them more willing to assist you going forward. A note of appreciation never fails to brighten someone’s day.
- Pass it on Think about how you can help friends, family and current and former colleagues. It’s shouldn’t always be about you. You may have connections that would help another contact – introduce them. You may have relevant articles to share. Networking should be mutually beneficial. While you’re focused on helping someone else, you may receive significant unexpected benefits. That article you emailed might trigger them to share an opportunity with you now that you’re back on their radar.
- Shine the light Life is too short to surround yourself with doom and gloom. People who express gratitude make great team members. Maintaining an attitude of gratitude ensures that you’re showing appreciation to those who support you in your work or your job search. This can be especially helpful if you’re looking to move to another level in your current organization. People will want to work with you. It means members of your team and those you interact with will feel valued and appreciated.
So why is gratitude so hard?
We know demonstrating gratitude throughout the process will ensure we have support on our journey toward success. But in reality? Gratitude is an uphill battle for most of us. Why is that?
- We’re Hardwired for Negativity Whether we’re glass full people or glass half empty folks, we all tend to default to negativity. It’s so easy to focus on what’s wrong or who we feel has wronged up. Think about it. Even the way we describe a bad day with words like “crazy, disastrous, humiliating, and miserable,” is much more powerful than how we describe a but a good day is just “fine.” What does this have to do with appreciating the current state of your career? Well, when your brain is programmed to focus on all of the negative things about your job, it’s harder to feel thankful at the same time.
- We Measure Our Success Based on Others Teddy Roosevelt said, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’? Unfortunately, we spend a lot of time measuring our own success based on how we see others. In today’s world, that’s an even easier habit to fall into thanks to our daily dose of social media. We have instant access to other people’s ‘perfect highlight reels and filtered posts’, and it doesn’t make us feel great. This constant comparison effects our mood, and it can sabotage our feelings of gratitude. After all, you might feel happy with your existing list of career achievements. But when you see that your former co-worker got a promotion or one of your college classmates landed a book deal, suddenly you’re your negative self-talk kicks in.
- We Feel Pressured To Be Goal-Oriented Being truly grateful means, we have to live in the here and now. But we’re told that to be successful we need to have goals and be continually striving to meet them. We can get so caught up in looking at how far we still need to go, that we forget to look at how much we’ve already accomplished. The point is, we feel the need to be goal-getters and always doing something to move forward – so we move toward something bigger and better than what we have right now. That constant eye toward the future makes it harder to feel content with the present. So, take a few moments and be grateful for where you are now and the steps you’ve made to meet your future goals.
Finally, You Can’t Predict Tomorrow
I’ll leave you with one last thought. There’s one more reason to appreciate where you are right now: it’s what we have today. None of us are promised tomorrow. No matter the number of goals you set or the planning you do, the future is still unknown. But by stopping and making an inventory of all that we are grateful for each day, you’ll begin seeing your current life in a much brighter picture. Focus on what is around you at this very moment. No, all careers aren’t perfect. All bosses are great leaders. But it is where you are today, and I’m sure you’ve worked hard to get there.
There’s no doubt that it can be hard to appreciate the here and now. It’s important to remember every step of your career journey is an important one (yes, even the unexpected setbacks, failures, and disappointments). While you plan for your career future, you don’t want to become so obsessed with where you’re going, that you forget to give yourself a pat on the back for where you are and what you’ve already come through.
Gratitude is a choice, not a result. I hear all the time that it is so easy to be grateful when you’ve made it to the top. It is easy to be grateful when your career going exceptionally well. Yes, that is true but contrary to popular belief it is also easy to be grateful during a time of struggle or during a building phase of life where you are trying to improve in all sectors. In fact, gratitude is the key factor in achieving ultimate success and happiness.
There’s plenty more you want to achieve, but you’ve worked hard to get where you are right now. Take the time to soak it all in with a sense of gratitude.
P.S. I’ll be taking Thursday off to enjoy Thanksgiving with family. So, no post on Thursday, but we’ll back on schedule next week. I wish you and yours a time of reflection and a celebration of what’s to come.
If you want more secrets to building a successful career brand, you can:
Join my course and fast track your promotion quest or job search.
Subscribe to my YouTube channel and watch quick tips to help your job search or make yourself promotable.
Join my private Successfully Ever After Facebook Group for trainings and information designed for success-seekers.