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Just like any parent of a young child, these days I’m training my daughter to appreciate others and their acts of kindness by saying "Thank you". We’re all trained to be sincerely grateful for good luck, blessings and gifts from people and the universe. Yet, oddly enough, we rarely get into the habit of thanking ourselves. 

When was the last time you looked at your life in wonder and appreciation of all you have right now, and appreciated yourself for all you are, just as you are? My bet is that often when we take the time to be conscious of all that we have, we can sustain our appreciation for a relatively short period of time before the ‘buts’ interrupt our thoughts, and the inner voices start a refrain such as:

"I spend time with the kids, but it should have been more."
"I accomplished my big goal, but the results could have been better."
"I acquired what I wanted, but should have gotten it faster."

Sound familiar?

Ambition and drive are hugely useful tools and values; however, the dangers inherent in them include:

  • …losing the joy of achievement because when it happens, we’re already "on to the next thing"
  • …defining our careers, our finances, our partnerships and ourselves by what we’re not or not enough
  • …becoming dependent on fear as a primary source of motivation

When these are showing up, the motivator has become dangerously toxic. How does striving keep you from appreciating what you have? Who you are? Whom you’re with? When does ambition keep you from actively enjoying your life just as it is?

It’s actually a question as simple as ‘Where’s your focus?’. If you’re focusing on what’s wrong and not enough, then what do you have? (Hint: you have what’s wrong and what’s not enough.)When you focus on what you have and what’s going right, you have freedom, confidence and achievement. You trust yourself more deeply. You feel more peace, love and see more opportunities. You can slow down and make clearer choices. You get to create further success though confidence and strength rather than fear and want.

I encourage you to practice deep gratitude during this month of thanksgiving. One simple way is by keeping two lists. The first one is titled, "My life is great this moment because…" and title the second one, "I’m grateful to myself for…" Make a commitment to take a quiet moment and add something to your lists everyday. (And if you feel yourself resisting this idea, have a look at that too!) You’ll be amazed at the growing ease and confidence you’ll feel.

Think of it as writing a long-overdue thank you note to an amazing person – You!

And another thing…Celebrate! Neal Whitten, president of Neal Whitten Group, says from his experience, the majority of company leaders do not celebrate important milestones or significant events that their teams have worked hard to meet. Whitten thinks that special milestone or events have to be planned to take place a minimum of every three months and should be challenging, but doable. "Celebrating the successful completion of the milestone is motivating, exciting, and helps the team to bond," he notes. Whitten says that the celebration does not have to be a large or expensive event; lunch, movie tickets, or a few hours off will do. He points out that recognizing and lauding an employee can foster future productivity. Research shows the leading reason workers exit a company is because they do not feel appreciated. Since a project or company cannot succeed without people doing well, Whitten reasons, supporting an atmosphere that encourages employees to do their best and recognizes those efforts will provide substantial return on investment.

Michelle Randall is an executive coach supporting leaders and their teams in creating effective, lasting and successful change. To learn how to make your critical transitions achieve their potential visit for useful resources and a complementary consultation on your specific situation.

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