Giving Thanks Can Boost Your Career

It's that time of year when we reflect on the things we are thankful for.

We often share those things with family and friends around the Thanksgiving table, but how often do you show gratitude in your daily life - specifically, in your work life? Sure, saying "thank you" is polite. But with the right approach and timing, it can also boost your career.

The Career Benefits of Showing Gratitude and Giving Thanks

Gratitude is a powerful concept - there is a reason why so many therapists, life coaches and career coaches encourage people to focus on gratitude. When you take time each day to focus on or even write down the things you are grateful for, it directs your focus and energy on those things, making it easier to stop sweating the small stuff and focus on the bigger picture.

So, How Can Giving Thanks Help Your Professional Life?

  • Gratitude reconnects you to "the little things." The more money and "stuff" we acquire, the less likely we are to find joy in small things. Focusing on gratitude will reconnect you to simple pleasures and make you a happier person, which will trickle down to your work life.

  • Gratitude keeps you focused on positives. At work, it is very easy to get hung up on negative things. An attitude of gratitude keeps you focused on the positives which will boost your morale, increase your productivity and keep you engaged in your work.

  • Giving thanks reduces stress. Stress leads to problems with both physical and mental health. Focusing on gratitude will make you less of a pessimist. Instead of feeling overwhelmed when something goes wrong at work or when you are working too hard, you'll be able to take a step back and take stock of the situation with focus and clarity.

  • A positive and grateful attitude will improve your professional relationships. Think about the people you work with and for. Is it enjoyable to work around someone who never says thank you, only focuses on the negative, and takes others for granted? Of course not. By becoming someone who prioritizes gratitude, you'll improve your relationships with your own co-workers - and your attitude will spread across the team.

These small, daily changes will make you a more optimistic and positive person to be around. This will make you stand out among your peers. Positive, thankful people make great leaders and are more likely to be thought of when it's time to hand out primo projects or even promotions. If you earn a reputation as someone who regularly gives thanks, you'll also find it very easy to accumulate positive professional references and build connections with new people as you grow your network.

How to Give Thanks in Your Professional Life

Giving thanks sounds great in theory, but how can you put it into practice in meaningful ways? From daily changes to larger overtures, here's how you can become a more grateful and thankful professional:

  • Say thanks just because. There is never a bad time to say thank you. You always want to thank someone the moment they do something for you, but you can go a step further. Don't wait for a reason to say thanks. Just drop an ultra-helpful co-worker a note thanking them in general for all they do. It will make their day while boosting your own attitude.

  • Recognize peers in staff meetings. At the close of a staff meeting when the moderator asks, "Does anyone have anything else to discuss," raise your hand. Each week thank someone publicly for something they did for you or the team. Pretty soon, you'll notice others joining in.

  • Give a card. When someone really goes above and beyond to help you out (making a networking connection, helping you land an interview, etc.), or when a co-worker helps you achieve a goal or milestone, go the extra mile by writing a thank-you card to them.

  • Thank the people who never get thanked. When was the last time anyone thanked the cleaning crew at your office? The building maintenance person? Those folks work hard every day and many of them may feel overworked and underappreciated. Surprise these people every now and then by leaving them a card and little snack or gift to show them their work is valued.

The fact is, thanking people and showing gratitude at work is good for everyone. It's always better for your career to be seen as someone who lifts people up and shines a spotlight on others.

How to Become More Grateful

How can you stay focused on gratitude at work when you are under constant pressure? It takes work, but with commitment, it can be done.

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Popularized by Oprah, a gratitude journal involves spending a little time each day - typically in the morning - writing down three things you are grateful for. If you keep track of things you're thankful for, it not only sets a positive tone for your day, but also releases "feel-good" hormones like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. You can buy a guided gratitude journal that includes other exercises in positivity and thankfulness, or you can simply use a notepad or spiral notebook.

  • Set boundaries with negative people. A Negative Nancy can make it difficult to focus on the positive. You could be clicking along having a great day, and it only takes one comment from a sourpuss to ruin it. Try to limit your interactions with negative people, and when you do get involved in a conversation with one, try to get them to see the positive in their situation. They will either follow your lead, or move on to someone else. Either way, your day will be better.

  • Focus on lessons learned when you experience a setback at work. When you make a mistake, suffer a setback or experience an all-out failure at work, don't dwell on it. Ease the pain and move forward in a positive way by showing gratitude for the lessons you learned. Ask yourself what new abilities the setback drew out of you and list the ways you can use that setback to achieve a positive outcome the next time around.

  • Thank one person at work every day. At a minimum, make sure you're thanking one person at work every day. Keep a notepad in your desk to track it. Soon, it will become a habit.

You Set the Path for Your Success

Where do you want to be professionally next year? If you have a goal, focusing on gratitude and giving thanks is a great fuel for your success. Not only will your outlook improve, you'll also be building stronger professional connections that will ensure you'll have success in your journey. Remember, no one succeeds without the help of others. So make this the year you go out of your way to give thanks and say thank you to those around you.