In a year as tough as this one, you might be hunting for things to be thankful for at work.
We’re thankful of course for our jobs**, and for others doing the tough jobs that keep us all moving forward: healthcare and hospital workers, delivery people, staff in essential companies such as grocery stores, and of course, teachers. And that’s just a short list.
But when we look deeper, there’s even more to be thankful for at work than you might have imagined, even in our ZoomTeamsWebEx world where laptops are lifelines and pants are optional.
Here’s my favorite six.
(**P.S. If you’re currently out of work, you might be thinking “what do I have to be thankful for?” But stay with me. There’s much to be thankful for in your world, too, so I’ve added ideas & resources for you, throughout this article.)
Six Things to be Thankful for at Work
1. Be thankful for the problems that create your job.
The only reason a job—any job—exists is to solve a set of problems.
The cashier at your local grocery chain exists to solve the problem of how customers pay for their essential items, so that the company can pay its farmers, butchers, bakers and other vendors.
The IT expert exists to solve the problem of what happens when non-techy people need to shift their work completely online in a matter of days, and suddenly, internal systems and processes no longer suffice.
The senior executive exists to make the hard decisions around larger, more complex sets of problems, and then to take responsibility to make sure the right people are solving them.
If we have no problems, we have no jobs.
We’ve seen in real-time how once a problem is lessened, the jobs around it lessen, too. For example:
- The problem of getting information to your colleagues and friends around the world goes away when you have Facebook, email, and Zoom—and so go thousands of postal service jobs, too.
- The problem of making it easier for customers to withdraw money from their account fades when you introduce the ATM—-and reduce teller roles.
- The problem of feeding hungry office workers downtown goes away when those workers all stay home—and hundreds of local restaurants close.
So be grateful for the problems that create your job.
You can still wish them away, but their presence is your present.
FOR THE JOB SEEKER: The great news for you is that the world is filled with problems, which means there is plenty of work to be done. Your job is to get clear about the problems you solve, and then work to find the people and places who experience that problem, even if they don’t know it yet. Check out this article for some strategies to uncover those problems for you.
2. Be thankful for your colleagues.
It’s great to have friends at work, even if you don’t get to see them in person right now. Studies have shown that having someone you care about at work is a key contributor to your satisfaction and engagement in the organization.
As we’ve seen from being forced apart, human beings are social animals at heart. All of us need some kind of connection with others.
Be thankful for the colleagues you can talk to that really make your days bright.
For extra added grateful gravy, take a minute and tell them thanks:
- “Thanks for supporting me.”
- “Thanks for your great attitude.”
- “Thanks for messaging me in the chat to tell me there was spinach in my teeth.”
- “Thanks for listening when I rant.”
- “I’m not really sure what you do, Bob, but thanks for being there.” <grin>
Don’t assume they know. If you feel it, share it.
Especially in an accelerated remote world, going out of your way to say thanks will make someone’s day (and isn’t bad for you, either.)
And of course, we all have colleagues who challenge and annoy us, too. Invest a minute and appreciate their unique role in your worklife. After all, the haters make you appreciate the lovers all the more.
FOR THE JOB SEEKER: Don’t forget that you’ve HAD colleagues in the past. You’re not alone. Just because you’re no longer working with them doesn’t mean you can’t reconnect with them and tell them thanks for what you’ve learned from them or for the things they taught you. Gratitude is a powerful reason to reach out and also can help re-warm a relationship that might be able to support you as you work toward what’s next. Need a good way to prompt your thinking about who you already know? Try this LinkedIn technique.
3. Be thankful for your superpowers you bring to work.
Even if you haven’t discovered them fully yet, know there is something special and unique about you that you bring to your work, no matter what you do.
You know it. I know it.
Your superpowers are definitely things to be thankful for at work. I’m thankful you have them, too.
4. Be thankful for your emotions (yes, even at work).
It’s outdated advice to believe that we should bypass our emotions in the workplace, especially in a year where we need to recognize and express our emotions more than ever to support our personal resilence.
Positive emotion pulls us forward, and motivates us to take the next step. Negative emotions push us back, causing us to hide or play small.
Either way, though, our emotions are big, flashing, body-shaped signs sending out signals that tell us what’s really going on for us.
So, rather than hating your emotions, pushing them aside, being embarrassed by them, or apologizing for them, let’s recognize and appreciate them for what they are. They’re trying to tell you something, so stop, listen, and say thanks.
In fact, our hearts, guts and bodies are often trying to tell us what we’re feeling long before our brains register anything that our mouths can put into words.
Paying attention to your emotions can be a huge source of practical, real-life data about what you need to do next. Say thanks to your emotions for being your powerful information station.
FOR THE JOB SEEKER: The job of finding a job can be an emotional rollercoaster. Don’t beat yourself up on the bad days. These daily short audios can help, as can these strategies to get out of a funk. Remember, somebody out there needs you—your mission is to connect yourself with others so that you’re easier to find so you can solve those problems you’re meant to solve. Friends will want to help, which is great when the negative emotions get in the way. But sometimes, our friends don’t know the right ways to help. In those cases, you might offer them ideas like those here on how to support you best.
5. Be thankful for your competitors.
Yes, even though there may be days when you just wish they’d go away, your competitors can push you, challenge you, and scare you to try new things—things you may not have done otherwise.
Competitors are a great source of data about other ways to do things and different choices to make.
Plus, they continue to create a new set of problems that reinforce the need for your job (see #1).
Be thankful for them, often and always.
(Plus, you never know when a competitor will someday become a coworker or friend.)
FOR THE JOB SEEKER: You, especially, can be grateful for your competitors, because having competition can push you to figure out how you stand out. I see too many job seekers just looking to blend in, falling into the job search traps of sending resume after resume, and hoping that magic happens. When you do that, you’re one of many. Instead, invest time to build relationships with people who work in companies and industries with the problems you can solve (you can use email and LinkedIn for to get started). People don’t hire resumes; people hire people, so the people who reach out and talk to more people differentiate themselves from their competitors who don’t.
6. Be thankful for yourself.
Don’t sit down at the holiday table without first saying thanks to the person who can do the most for you at work.
Yes, you—not your leader, your manager, or your mom.
- You are the only one who can get clear on what’s most powerful and amazing about you.
- You are the only one who can build your own confidence and recognize that you make a difference.
- You are the only one who can take control, taking action everyday toward creating the life at work that you want.
And if you haven’t done a great job of that to date, it’s not too late.
Engage a mentor or a professional coach.
Don’t give in to the darkness that settles around you when you’re unhappy with your life at work or when you’re seeking new work. Get moving to shine a light on the future.
Because we need you now, more than ever. And we’re thankful for you.
Thanks for being here, and if you want more help
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