Giving Thanks and Giving Back at Work

As Thanksgiving approaches here in the United States, many of us look ahead to the end of the year and the fading tradition of holiday cards and letters. Generations before us sent them to family, friends and valued associates as a way to update them on our lives. While not as common today, those that do write a “holiday letter” continue to fill it with highlights from the year … the addition of new family members (including adored pets), the annual vacation, and notable milestones. On occasion, they may include the mention of a new job or career change. But how many of us really pause to reflect on a place where we spend so much of our time and energy during the year – at work?

It may be time for a new career tradition – one where we give thanks for all that’s good in our job and place of employment. Here are five ideas to start:

  1. Note the noteworthy: Commonly, holiday letters talk about your child’s accomplishments or your vacation. What would your career letter say? Write down every win you can think of, big and small. What new skills have you built? What relationships have you improved? What moments stand out as big “wins”? Sometimes we move too fast past these successes, and now is the perfect time to really feel good about them.
  2. Reflect on the good: It’s a great time to reflect on the things you enjoy at work: the fun co-worker; the challenging project; the good commute. Whatever it is for you, give yourself time to celebrate the good and add some big-picture perspective to the minor day-to-day complaints we all have.
  3. Say thanks: Now is a great time to tell your colleagues you appreciate them and why. Who are the unsung heroes that make your workplace special, or look out for you in big and small ways? Maybe it’s the receptionist, the cafeteria worker, the parking garage attendant or the mailroom clerk. Take time out to appreciate and thank the individuals who make your work day better.
  4. Give back: Work is a terrific place to donate your time to others. It can be organized, such as a team-building event for charity, and it can also be informal and unexpected. Mentor someone junior to you, take a new person out to lunch, or reach out to someone you’ve had conflict with in the past. There is an old saying, “The more you give, the more you get.” Try it and see how much joy you receive from giving.
  5. Rest and recharge: While it’s great to give to others, don’t forget yourself. Unplug from your devices for a while, take a walk, go see a movie and reconnect with friends and family. Health and happiness feed career success in ways that we don’t always realize. You’ll be rested and ready for some New Year’s resolutions (which I’ll write about in January!).

My best wishes to you for a safe and happy holiday season, at home and at work.