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Category Archives: Advice from a Life Coach

In the past, I’ve discussed the importance of gratitude (in short, it’s can make a HUGE difference in your productivity, work and personal relationships, and mentality), but this week I wanted to focus on gratitude ACTIONS. What are some ways you can show gratitude to others?

First of all, WHY is it important to show gratitude to others?

According to David Horsager, author of The Trust Edge, gratitude is the number one magnetic trait that attracts others to you. Additionally, when you show others gratitude, they feel appreciated and are more likely to want to help you in the future. This may seem obvious, but it’s a simple truth we often forget. People appreciate visible signs of gratitude.

Get started by trying out any of the 5 approaches below:

1. Say (and Write) Thank You.

Even if you act grateful (enjoying your meal, praising the work someone did, etc.), that’s not quite the same as actually saying, “Thank you.” These two words are worth a lot, especially when said with meaning. And don’t forget the power of a handwritten thank you note. It’s a gesture that shows you care enough about the other person that you took time out of your busy day to write something thoughtful.

During my career at 3M, I occasionally wrote thank you notes to the members of my sales team. I figured they would read them and eventually toss them, but one day I learned that one of my team members kept the thank you notes in his vehicle and glanced at them when he needed a morale boost. I knew thank you’s could be powerful, but this blew me away! You never know what your thank you might achieve.

2. Listen

Too often, we are so busy with all the thoughts in our own heads that we miss what others are saying. Show the person across the table from you that you are grateful for their presence. Sincerely listen to what they have to say before jumping in with your own story or opinion.

3. Extend an Invitation and Follow Through

If there is someone at the office (or perhaps an old friend or relative) with whom you’d like to connect, reach out to them! Too often, we become comfortable in our own cozy bubbles and forget the people at the peripheries of our lives. It’s as simple as asking someone to lunch or a quick cup of coffee. It’s not as scary or awkward as it sounds—turns out, people are almost always receptive to connecting with an old acquaintance.

4. Lend a Hand

Whether it’s cleaning up the dishes after a friend’s holiday party or offering to help your administrative assistant prepare for the next office get together, it’s always nice to give others support by helping out. (Bonus points if you also thank them for their hard work.)

5. Acknowledge Others’ Successes

It could be a co-worker, it could be your son or daughter—practice showing gratitude to others by acknowledging their good work. You could do this publicly (i.e. in a company meeting or when you’re gathered together at lunch) or privately. Share a specific example of what that person did or accomplished and let them know you appreciate their excellent work.

During this holiday season, let’s make an extra effort to show others gratitude—be they co-workers, family, or friends. Not only will your efforts be appreciated, you’re also helping to strengthen bonds, improve relationships, and set the tone for a positive path forward.

THANK YOU for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate it!

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE

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If I asked you to picture some friends you haven’t talked to in a while, could you think of a few people? Maybe several? These could be work colleagues, friends from college (or even high school), or friends you made during a certain period of your life—maybe another parent who was also involved in Little League or a school play. As life goes on, we inevitably connect with others…and often let those connections slip.

Is there anyone you’d like to reconnect with? Someone you think about often and wonder how they’re doing?

If so, I encourage you to reach out! According to research described in Daniel Pink’s short video, reconnecting is NOT as awkward as you might think!

Studies show that when you send a message or call someone with whom you haven’t spoken in some time, that person often appreciates the effort. It’s usually not awkward; it’s a nice surprise! The person will be flattered that you thought to contact them, and you just might make someone’s day.

Another reason to reach out: Far more adults are lonelier than you might realize. An incredible 35 percent of adults aged 45 and older, and 43 percent of adults aged 60 and older, report feeling lonely on a regular basis. If you feel like meeting with someone for coffee, your invitation might be very welcome, or even much-needed.

Reconnecting with old friends is also a low-stakes way to let others know you care. Even if you don’t end up getting together in person, the fact that you’re communicating online or over the phone is something. It is a thread that helps strengthen and maintain your relationship—and you never know when you may need each other (for professional guidance, personal support, or as a bridge to another person).

So, if you’re debating about whether or not to call your old college roommate, send an email to a favorite former co-worker, or mail a birthday card to an old friend, debate no longer! Set aside any reservations, and just do it. Unless your relationship ended horribly, there is very little risk involved in reaching out. And you never know—you just might reestablish a friendship.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE.

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When you’re faced with a task that you’d rather not do, procrastination is the easiest thing in the world. You suddenly find a thousand ways to keep busy that are not the task at hand. You might clean out your email spam folder, work on a low-priority project, browse social media, or do the dishes/laundry/dusting (if you work from home). We’ve all been there!

It can be extremely difficult to overcome the mental barriers we tend to put up for ourselves. We see the undesirable task as a 20-foot wall, and we know it will take a huge amount of effort to even begin climbing.

What to do?

One method you could try is a simple 5-minute technique for combatting procrastination. This method involves confronting the task and saying to yourself, “Okay, I’m going to do it for just five minutes. That’s all I’m obligated to do right now.”

Then, you get started.

The reason this very easy method works is because we can do just about anything for five minutes. Whether you’re tackling a tedious task, writing an email you’d rather not send, calling a difficult client, or writing the first sentence of a very long report, five minutes is doable.

And, here’s the thing: Once you get started, you might find yourself spending 10, 15, or 20 minutes (or more!) on the assignment. The key is getting started. This is the same mentality as putting on your gym clothes to motivate yourself to work out. Getting dressed and lacing up your shoes is a huge part of the battle. You’re starting your engine, you’re making an effort, and hopefully these small initial actions will give you the momentum you need to get going and follow through on the rest of your task.

The “just five minutes” approach will also help you become less intimidated by large projects. There’s no pressure to do everything right now. You just have to get started and begin chipping away at it. This is a great approach to goal-setting, in general. It’s easy to become intimidated by large projects or lofty objectives, but if you break them down into bite-sized pieces, set goals for reaching those mile markers, and keep chipping away (and occasionally rewarding yourself for progress!), you’ll eventually reach your goal. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

The next time you’re feeling burnt out, stressed, or reluctant to work on a particular project, try the five-minute technique. Set aside this time, commit to do nothing else but the work (no checking your phone!), and dive in. Setting a timer could work for some, but it might feel like a “hard stopping point” for others (which could stifle momentum).

Adapt the technique in a way that works for you, and get started! You might be surprised by how much you can accomplish in five minutes–and how that five-minute push was just the thing to drive you forward.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE.

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