thank you note

As I’ve mentioned previously, I have had a word of the year for the past several years. One year, it was the word grateful. As is often the case (or always, so far in my limited experience!), the word starts the year out with one intent, but finishes the year different and more robust than I can imagine.

As one of the ways to steep myself in gratitude, I found the book, Living in Gratitude by Angeles Arrien which is a delightful month-by-month guide to exploring gratitude. The book has interesting tidbits from all sorts of history and traditions along with the seasons and what is happening in nature each month of the year. 

It helped to open my eyes not just to the obvious things I have to be grateful for (food, clothing, shelter, family, friends, etc.) but also connected me to the tradition of gratitude across time and cultures. It made my feeling of gratitude much more expansive as a result.

Gratitude can be especially powerful if you’re not completely happy with your current work situation, regardless of whether it’s the specific job, team, or company. Focusing on the things you’re grateful for at work can infuse you with some much needed joy and energy to forge ahead with your less enjoyable tasks. 

It can be as simple as remembering the special bond you have with one person at work. You know, the one person you tell everything! You’re lucky to have someone like that. Maybe it’s the great food in the cafeteria. More likely, it’s the fact that your company is located nearby to that amazing Mexican food place! It could be that you get to dress however you want. Or maybe the supply closet always has a stash of your favorite type of pen. These sound silly, but appreciating the little things truly makes bad days better and good days great.

If you’re located in the U.S., this is the week that we celebrate Thanksgiving. Some people prefer to breeze through Thanksgiving on their way to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. Instead, I would encourage you to pause and reflect and savor a few of those things that fill you with gratitude. 

As for me, I’ll be spending the week expressing gratitude and sending notes to people letting them know what I appreciate about them. 

#PositiveAction Write a list of 5 things you’re grateful for at work. Bonus points for telling someone else what you appreciate in them!

 

Image by June Laves from Pixabay

Last summer I had the opportunity to travel to Yellowstone National Park as part of an epic family road trip. *Side note: if you’re heading there anytime soon, check out this awesome guide! Yes, I also have a 3-ring binder filled with travel details if you want to know more. Are you at all surprised?!? End side note!*

Yellowstone is a huge swath of wilderness known for its unusual geothermal activity. The picture above is of a mudpot – a place where the ground is literally bubbling due to the hot water just under the surface. Not particularly exciting or aesthetically pleasing in photo format, but very cool to see in person.

I was going through my pictures of that trip recently and when I saw the mudpots, my brain immediately went to how similar mudpots are to humans. Not in a Creature From the Black Lagoon or Scooby Doo mud monster kind of way. Rather in how we all have things (good and bad usually) bubbling just below the surface. Unlike the mudpots where you can see the mud bubbling in real time, we try to keep those thoughts, ideas, and feelings hidden.

The mud is hidden, but it’s there. At Yellowstone, they put up boardwalks and railings to keep us a safe distance from the boiling mud. Too bad people don’t come with those!

Right now, I have several big projects coming to critical points at the same time, so although it’s good mud that’s bubbling within me, I need to find a way to bring it back down from a boil to a simmer so it doesn’t steal my focus from the people, discussions, and projects that are important to me. 

One of the ways I do that is to write down the muddy ideas. When I get them out of my head and onto paper, my brain stops churning on them. Another way is to keep reminding myself how it all aligns to my purpose, which smooths out the mud and serves to calm me down.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is recognize when someone else is experiencing a fit of bubbling mud. At work, we can get so focused on our daily tasks that we forget to check in with people on how they’re feeling. You’d be surprised what a difference it will make in a co-worker’s day if you make time to ask them how they’re feeling and really listen to the answer.

#PositiveAction What thoughts, ideas, and feelings are bubbling up right now? Do one thing to help yourself or better yet, someone else, smooth out the mud!

 

Photo by me, in Yellowstone National Park.

This post is an excerpt from my soon-to-be-published book. If you’d like to be one of the first to know when it’s available, jump the line and sign up for my newsletter!

There are times in everyone’s life where we need someone to coach us through small (and sometimes big!) moments. Here’s an example. I’ve struggled for most of my adult life with consistently flossing my teeth. I was a sometimes-flosser, not a daily-flosser. *Gasp!* I know. I was familiar with the lecture from the dental folks that I only had to see twice a year on how it’s important and healthy and blah-blah-blah. I knew the right thing to do. I was lacking in the action department.

When you see dental floss commercials, they always show someone flossing as they get ready for bed. Same on TV sitcoms. I naturally assumed that the only time of day to floss was right before bedtime, since that’s what I’d seen. Here’s the issue. I’m a morning person. I do my best work and have my highest energy in the morning. At night I’m tired (and sometimes grumpy!) and have no interest in expending effort on… well, anything… but especially flossing!

Enter the dental hygienist who successfully coached me through the issue. I shared with her that I was a morning person and was too tired at night to floss every night (a lame, but very true excuse). Instead of telling me I should try harder or that it’s important and healthy, she gave me an easy positive action to take. Floss at the time of day that works best for me. 

Wait. What? Do it when it’s convenient for me? Like pretty much everyone else in the world, I LOVE things that are convenient for me! How has this idea never been mentioned before?!?!

Pretty simple (and obvious) right? But it had never occurred to me because I believed flossing was part of a bedtime routine. That simple insight to get me unstuck completely changed when and how often I floss.

Unless you’re in the tooth cleaning industry, this probably sounds insignificant. It’s just a little more minty freshness in the world. No big deal. But it was the exact insight I needed to finally take positive action to do something different to get a different result.

The same is true for a coach in any other aspect of your life. They will ask the hard questions and point out the sometimes obvious insights to help you get unstuck. It’s one of my favorite parts of working with clients when I can help them move past an issue that’s been holding them back. Remember, coaches come in all different forms, sometimes with an official title, but more often in the form of a friend or co-worker or dental hygienist willing to point out an alternative course of action for you to try.

#PositiveAction What’s that small thing you’ve avoided changing, even though you probably know what to do? Find a way to reframe by asking a friend for ideas to get unstuck.  

 

 Image by 2396521 from Pixabay

I’ve been thinking about purpose a lot lately, maybe because I was able to witness an example of a life well-lived during the Honor Flight. Or maybe because I’ve been working on manifesting (making real) some big dreams, like writing a book! I’ve had several reminders lately to keep my focus on my purpose that were worth sharing.

My purpose is to educate and empower others to take positive action. I get to do that through my career coaching, where I help clients get unstuck, move forward, tell their best story, and find meaningful work. I get to do that when I’m speaking to a group. I also get to do that through my volunteer work with the Climate Reality Project. Interestingly, I also get to do that as a parent, friend, child, co-worker… really any relationship I have with another human is a chance to live into my purpose.

The challenge comes when life starts to happen all around. It’s easy to focus on all the tasks that need doing, without remembering the why (purpose) behind those tasks. Lately, I’ve been struggling with a few administrative-type tasks and finding ways to get them done sooner and better. When I think about the task itself, it makes me want to cringe or run away! But when I think about how it enables me to live out my purpose, the burdensome administrative task becomes easier. 

As another example, I have been enjoying a period of growth in my business and it’s been awesome, but it’s also made everything feel a lot more busy. That rushed, overwhelmed feeling likes to sneak in at times like that. I had mentioned how busy I was to a good friend and he immediately asked me, “Are you so busy that you can’t help one more person this month who is struggling in their job?” Hmm. Good question. When I listen to the busy, my brain wants to freak out and turn down opportunities. When I listen to my purpose, I can say with confidence, “Yes! I can help.”

I made a deliberate choice to start living life on purpose and it’s a change that’s been transformational for me. However, making the choice once doesn’t make it real. I have to consistently choose to be on purpose in order to live into it. I’m grateful for the reminders that keep bringing me back to that fact.

#PositiveAction Do one thing that brings you closer to working on purpose today. It could be defining your purpose, course correcting, or saying yes to an opportunity.  

 

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay