Research has shown that gratitude boosts positive emotions, helps people appreciate their experiences, improves overall well-being, and encourages resilience. These are all good goals to aim for as you pursue your career — all throughout the year.
If thoughts of turkey, travel, and time off are filling your head right now, you’re not alone. Thanksgiving is approaching — and as you consider how you’ll be spending the holiday, remember this is also a perfect opportunity to consider how the practice of gratitude and the activities of Thanksgiving Day can tie into your career pursuit. You already spend so much time on the job and thinking about your role, so why not do it intentionally this month?
To help you do that, we’re “harvesting” some fun and practical lessons from everyone’s favorite turkey-related holiday that can help you excel in your career.
1. Travel Wisely: Think strategically and plan ahead.
If you’ve ever traveled the day before or the day of Thanksgiving, you know what a headache that can be. Flights get delayed, traffic gets heavy, people get irritable. It’s not exactly a relaxing, positive experience. And the same can happen with your career if you wait until the last minute to deal with decisions and actions.
As with traveling, when you give yourself an extra cushion, you’ll be less stressed when the unexpected interrupts your plans. So, develop the habit of giving yourself lead time to think and plan before you:
- Talk with your manager about issues, a raise, etc.
- Go to a job interview.
- Address coworkers in a meeting about an idea you want to pursue.
How do you plan ahead? Test out different techniques to figure out what fits best: a vision board, meeting with a mentor, brainstorming, strategizing with friends, creating goals with dates attached, etc.(Check out more about goal setting here.)
2. Fill Your Plate: Get a taste of everything.
Who doesn’t like a feast at Thanksgiving? The choice of foods is often so plentiful, and so tempting, that it’s hard to say no. A lot of people handle that by putting at least a little spoonful of everything on their plate so they can enjoy a taste of it all — without overdoing it.
You can apply that same approach to your career building goals. Whether you’re new to your role, an old pro, or in a transition to a new career path, taking on new challenges is good for your brain, your skill set, and your job opportunities. How do you do that at work?
- Volunteer for roles on committees.
- Look at the job description of the next role you want, pinpoint new skills, and find ways to learn them at your current job.
- Visit with people who are in different departments and learn more about what they do.
- Talk with your manager about skills you need to level up.
3. Name What You’re Grateful For: Evaluate the positives in your current role.
At your Thanksgiving table, do you have everyone share something they’re thankful for before you eat? Finding things to be grateful for can deliver a lot of benefits, including a happier time at work. Every position has its 80% of tasks you love and are good at, and its 20% you could live without doing (but that you still have to do, because it’s part of the job). While focusing on the negatives only leads to job dissatisfaction, gratitude increases your sense of satisfaction and joy. It can even help you pursue your career with more passion.
Instead of dwelling on the downers, look for positives:
- Consider what you appreciate about your current role — the successes and perks.
- Identify the good things that have come from past struggles, disappointments, and failures.
- Look for ways to apply the skills you’ve gained at your current role in ways that allow you to take risks and pursue opportunities.
4. Help Out in the Kitchen: Collaborate with others.
To make the Thanksgiving feast a success from start to finish, a lot has to happen. Pitching in makes all the work go more smoothly — and gives everyone a chance to connect at the same time. Your attitude toward work should be the same. Lending a helping hand can really boost your mood, and happiness boosts your productivity — a plus when you’re aiming for a promotion.
How do you level up your collaborative attitude? Here are some suggestions:
- Be willing to speak up and share ideas in meetings.
- Offer to pitch in when a coworker is overwhelmed.
- Let your manager know you’d like more opportunities, or suggest tasks you could take on.
- Be a person that newer colleagues can come to as a resource.
5. Appreciate the Parades and Games: Take time for yourself.
Watching the Thanksgiving Day parade is a popular activity across the country. So is catching the latest football game on TV. These activities are fun and refreshing — a chance to relax and recharge so you can return to your everyday routines, including your job, with greater energy. Successful careers depend on hard work, it’s true — but they also depend on you being at your best.
Give yourself some valuable self-care when you’re not at work, so you can come back revitalized and ready to tackle new challenges:
- Make time for exercise, which releases endorphins — a natural stress reliever.
- Get plenty of rest, including sleep and down-time, which equips you to make better decisions.
- Set an automatic email response telling people you’re out of office, and don’t check messages until you’re back at work.
6. Share the Bounty: Connect with the community.
Many people like to volunteer during the holidays. At Thanksgiving, that can mean giving away turkeys, buying groceries for donation to a food pantry, or making meals to share with those who are less fortunate. And when you think about it, acts of generosity and giving back are just as meaningful to your career as to your personal life. Volunteering allows you to meet new people, build your network, gain new skills, and make a difference. And these days, many companies encourage volunteering among their staff.
Align your giving with your career with these tips:
- Look for places to volunteer where you can gain some skills you want to grow better at. (These can be soft skills, such as becoming adept at working with people and problem-solving.)
- Organize a volunteer day with your coworkers to do good in the community while also promoting the place where you work.
- Become a mentor by teaching your skills through continuing ed programs, tutoring, or coaching.
Summing It Up
Research has shown that gratitude boosts positive emotions, helps people appreciate their experiences, improves overall well-being, and encourages resilience. These are all good goals to aim for as you pursue your career — all throughout the year. So, make gratefulness and all these other Thanksgiving lessons a part of your everyday repertoire. Appreciate what’s good in your current role, and set yourself up for career growth by the actions you take now. You’ll be glad you did.