During the recent holiday season, Facebook fans have enumerated the many events and relationships in their lives for which they are thankful, from family and friends to new jobs and homes. Now that Thanksgiving has passed, however, have we satisfied our gratitude quota for the next 12 months? Do we just get on with our work?
Not if we’re truly thankful. The recognition of our assets and good fortune that we’ve experienced during the holiday season is a form of insight, similar in its usefulness to digital analytics or scientific research. Those findings do us little good if we fail to act on them. Our thanks need to be more than simply information that’s “good to know”; rather, they should form the basis for pursuing our lives and our business in the months to come.
Essential to the process of transforming thanks into beneficial action is communications. We should actively seek out ways to convert the positive things in our lives into the way we communicate with those we know and those we hope to know. Examples of such applications of communication could take the following forms:
- In your business, reexamine your statement of core values and beliefs in light of the aspects of your life for which you are thankful. Then, update this statement to reflect your new insights. For example, you may be thankful that a family member recovered from a severe illness over the past year. How does that experience impact your corporate values regarding the providing of healthcare or a more healthy work environment?
- If you are grateful for the loyalty of your clients, take the time to establish a regular and frequent pattern of communication with them on both a business and personal level. A congratulatory note when a child graduates or relaying praise for your client’s product that you heard in a store or your own office can cheer your client and solidify your relationship.
- Should you be thankful for recovering from an economic setback, learn from that experience and adjust your business plan to anticipate the next downturn, rather than relying on only the most optimistic projections. Then communicate those plans to your employees so they understand in advance the potential actions—and/or remedies—that may occur if your business confronts another reversal.
- In your personal life, remember all that you are thankful for when drafting your New Year’s resolutions. They can become meaningful goals, rather than merely an entertaining exercise, if they can improve your daily life or relationships. If you are thankful for having found many new friends in the past year, resolve to be a true friend for them in return, giving of your time and resources as they may need. If you’re thankful that last year’s diet and exercise showed wonderful results, write down your plan for maintaining a healthier lifestyle in the coming year, with specific actions, goals and deadlines to achieve.
Being thankful should not entail looking back alone. Our thanks also should serve as promises for the future and guideposts for a happy new era.