Facebook can be such a fun thing – a place to share pictures of your family (two and four legged), funny stories, interesting news tidbits and the occasional lists. A tradition, it seems, is for the month of November for you to post every day something you are grateful for.
I watched closely this month out of curiosity and trying not to have a hypothesis proven. Unfortunately, it was.
The month started with the robust proclamations of gratitude for God and Family. They posts were really lovely and heart felt.
During week two we started to see some cracks in the wall, people having to make up because they forgot to post the day before.
Week three it seemed to be getting to a stretch people trying to put down something “meaningful” to be thankful for. My favorites were my friends who were completely themselves and thankful for what others might have thought as silly or meaningless. Thanks is thanks.
Week four it was a sad dwindle; only a fraction of those who started had completed this “task”. Yes, task, because unfortunately it seemed that maybe it felt like a task there at the end.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I am all about gratitude. But more importantly for myself I am more about putting the “hey that’s a great idea” into practice. I took a different approach several months ago because I wanted to take it to another level.
You have all heard the inspirational quotes and mantras what you praise grows, happy people aren’t grateful/grateful people are happy etc. I wanted to take that initial feel good and see how far I could take it.
I’m a list maker anyway, so on my daily To-Do list I made a small change: I added a Gratitude section. Right there on the top of the page. The night before I add to the next days to-dos but leave this part blank so first thing in the morning before I start my day I write down three things I am grateful for. Yes, three. I wanted to really stretch myself.
At first it was easy: my son, my family, my friends but I stretched it out: I listed them out individually.
Then it started getting a little harder. Why? Because I was putting some expectation on myself that no where in any of those happy positive inspirational quotes or mantras does it give rules. But I had imposed rules.
I thought that my gratitude should have meaning, big meaning: Thankful for my freedom, my family, my faith – things like that. I couldn’t possibly put down that I was thankful for finding a new scent for my wax burner. That seems silly, insignificant and well, unworthy.
How could God or the Universe bless me with more to be grateful for if I wasn’t appropriately thankful?
About a month into the daily gratitude it hit me – I was being an idiot.
Gratitude isn’t a competition sport. It was a feeling. And your feelings are not wrong – they are yours. Period.
So I started putting down the “silly” things: the scents, the sale on fresh asparagus, the new recipe for avocado/black olive salad, my friendly mail carrier, finding a five in the pocket of my jeans the night before.
I also started putting down characteristics in those I love that I was grateful for: the playfulness of my big puppy, the sometimes irritating way the little dog noses her way up on my office chair to take a nap while I am working, my son’s humor, my best friend’s grace – things I admired and were lucky enough to experience.
I start my day out this way for another purpose: sometimes I need a reminder. Sometimes my day seems to turn into a black hole of crap that I can then look over at my overwhelming to do list and see three things that I recognized in the morning and it helps. It helps me give myself a little kick in the butt to stop being so negative and suck it up.
You know most of my blogs come back around to job searching or business building – so here is the tie-in: start making your own list for yourself.
When trying to get hired by the right company or the right client we tend to focus on the bigger things and only the big things. When we come to a lull in progress we tend to get a little down on ourselves or the situation. This is when you need the list the most.
You have more to offer than just your big ticket items. Beyond the expertise, length of experience or job title: you have your personal qualities. The little things that make you – you.
If you think making a gratitude list every day is hard try making a self-appreciation list. At first you are not going to like me too much for this. But hang in there.
Every day start off by writing three things you appreciate about yourself. Yes – make it all about you. Step out of that comfy little box and give yourself some love.
That is going to be the hardest part because we are not used to doing it. Especially women. We really suck at it. I tell all my female clients I get it, as a woman we are used to putting everyone on top of the list: first our family, friends, community, job, home…and somewhere at the bottom of the list, behind the dogs is our name.
I have four dogs, I was way down there.
Do it anyway.
You don’t have to share it with anyone, you don’t even have to tell anyone you are doing it. If you have an amazingly supportive spouse or best friend you might want to tell them so they can help you identify some things to get you going, but that is up to you.
Write the darn list.
Give yourself permission to recognize and appreciate you, your qualities and your attributes.
Then here is something that will start to happen. You will start to see a connection there with those big ticket items and it will give you an additional layer to add when talking to those prospective companies or clients.
When you discuss your expertise you can add a layer of how you do what you do and now that you have full appreciation for the details of how you do it you will be speaking for a place of excitement, admiration or love.
Let’s give an example to help with this.
I am an analytical person, no, let me rephrase that – I am a very over-analytical, research the hell out of it, break it down, dissect it gotta know all the details or death kind of girl.
At first blush it doesn’t sound like a positive, right?
But it is. I have come to love this quality about myself. Here are some things I could say on my Self Appreciation List:
- I love the fact that I have been called “a dog with a bone” when there is a problem to solve.
- I love the part of me that is so inquisitive that I keep digging to find out all that I can.
- I love the fact that I won’t settle for surface information.
- I love that this is a quirk about me – it makes me unique.
- I love it when I get so involved in it that my best friend has to say things like, “sweetie – you really don’t have to know every single detail about this, it was just a thought.”
- I love the fact that I still get excited to learn new things.
- I love the fact that I feel brave in reaching out to ask people to help me understand and I have grown up enough to realize that ignorance is curable, stupidity is not.
- I love the fact that I have a best friend that supports me in my ridiculous efforts and lets me share with her what I found out.
- I love the fact that I can take a mountain of information from digging and then put it into a simple way to understand when explaining it to her.
Now, if I were job searching or networking in my old playing field of compliance in the financial industry I would definitely use these things to support and sell my expertise.
In talking about rules, regulations or compliance requirements I would add in that in working with my brokers I don’t just tell them this is what needs to be done because the Fed said so because I am a very analytical and communicative person. I personally want to know the whys so I can them work with them in incorporating the new regulation in a way that makes sense to them, doesn’t detract from their business and allows me to protect and serve them better because I have all the behind the scenes “whys” to make the “have to-s” possible.
Sounds a lot better than: “I’m good at compliance – I have a decade of experience in it and hold five series license and two insurance licenses.”
Not only will you gain a greater appreciation for yourself, but you will have solid, positive examples of how you do it better than anyone else.
In the end, isn’t that what you are trying to sell to the prospective employer or client?
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.