Giving Thanks — as a Business Practice?

Thanksgiving is tomorrow here in the U.S., and apart from stuffing ourselves silly with turkey and going a bit nuts for holiday sales, it’s a time when many people stop to give thanks for what they have.

Some families encourage their children to make lists of what they are thankful for, or go around the table letting everyone say one thing for which they are grateful. It’s a wonderful tradition that can be overlooked amid all the trips and trimmings, but I think gratitude is having a bit of a cultural renaissance.

Many celebrities and successful people, including Oprah herself, swear by a regular gratitude practice. It consists of simply taking note of a few things for which you are grateful, every day.

The holiday season often inspires people to be more aware of giving thanks, but did you know that establishing a daily practice of gratitude can be a useful tool for your business, too?

Stay connected with gratitude

A gratitude practice can help you stay connected to your business, especially your goals, your big “why”, and the reason you started your business in the first place.

An entrepreneur I know was struggling recently after hearing people question the prices for her high-end services a few too many times in a row, when she found out that one of her employees had recently been able to stop visiting the food bank in order to feed her family because of the salary she was being paid. Suddenly, knowing she was having such an impact on this woman’s life made my entrepreneur friend incredibly grateful — and able to answer her critics with confidence.

Personally, I’m thankful every day for the life our businesses have afforded our family. I get to live a life I always dreamed of, stay home with my daughter, travel the world, and impact the lives of thousands of women every year.

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Acknowledge your progress

Sometimes in the midst of the daily grind it can feel like you’re not progressing as fast as you’d like. Having a daily practice of gratitude for even the smallest achievements can help you stay in tune with all the small wins that ultimately contribute to the big wins.

There are many ups and downs in the entrepreneurial journey and the energy you bring to your work day has an effect on your productivity.

According to Harvard researchers, “Something as simple as writing down three things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days in a row significantly increases your level of optimism, and it holds for the next six months.”

It’s important to actually pause and give thanks and even acknowledge your own hard work and the impact your choices have had on your life and how these choices/actions have contributed to your success.

It’s equally important to acknowledge inner milestones like the confidence to do things you didn’t think you could do or the courage to continually push yourself outside your comfort zone. These inner milestones are important factors that make the outer milestones like sales goals and increased followers possible.

Rewire your brain to become an optimist

Other research has shown that practicing gratitude can actually rewire your brain to expect optimistic results (and therefore achieve them)!

Your mental health is vital for your business success. Why? You need your brain!

Your brain is a muscle and the better you take care of it, the better it can serve you. Whether it’s coming up with innovative new ideas or simply sustaining your willpower through the thick and thin of your business journey, your brain is a silent but significant team member.

Gratitude can recharge your willpower by keeping you connected to what’s going right instead of the singularly focusing on what’s going wrong or what could go wrong. In a study conducted at Berkley, compared with the participants who wrote about negative experiences or only received counseling, those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended.

Actually take the time to focus on what is going right in your life, in your business, in your relationships and give thanks for it all.

Start your own gratitude practice

Here are some ways you can add gratitude to your work day to take advantage of the massive benefits:

    1. Make a gratitude based mission statement. Get excited about your vision and why you get to do what you do. Write it in the present tense, keep it somewhere you will see it everyday, and read it daily. Use statements like, “I’m so happy and grateful I get to serve _______ by doing _________.” Or “I feel grateful to be ___________ helping others ___________.”
    2. Keep a gratitude or success journal. Give thanks for 3 good things that happen to you everyday and 3 wins everyday for at least 21 days straight. And remember: it doesn’t have to be solely business wins. You can record life wins that your business has helped you achieve, for example: I’m grateful I get to spend the winter on the west coast because my business is location independent. Or, I’m grateful I get to spend quality time with my family because I get to organize my time the way I choose.
    3. This holiday season, take some time to write a gratitude letter to your business. Thank it for the ups and downs and all the ways it’s contributed to your growth as a person. Even if your business isn’t where you’d like it to be, you can still strive to acknowledge the value having a business has added to your life.

What are you most thankful for this year? I’d love to hear about it!  Let’s flood Instagram with messages of thanks: Share what you’re most thankful for in your business with the hashtag #thankful4mybiz and don’t forget to tag me @Melanieduncan77.

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