Focus on Gratitude

As we move into the new year, many organizations are finalizing their budgets and some companies are creating new strategies. Meanwhile, some leaders are setting personal goals and creating “resolutions” for the coming year.

This year try something different. Take some time to truly pause and reflect on what’s happened in the past year. Move away from the information sources, put down your smartphone – you won’t need Siri or Alexa for help. Take a hike out in the country, go for a drive, or sit by a lake. Turn off all devices and sit in a quiet place in your house with a cup of coffee, or choose whatever locale makes you feel comfortable. (If you don’t like silence and need music, that’s fine. Just don’t allow any distractions from the phone or radio to take you away from the moment at hand.)

In whatever manner you decide to try this exercise, make sure you can’t be interrupted for at least one hour. If you are able, try to find a place that has a view or vista where you can gaze into the distance. This outer open space can expand your internal perspective and is one of the things so many people enjoy about the beach and mountains. Bring a pen and paper to jot down your thoughts so you can reflect on your thinking later.

Now, rather than thinking about all those things you need to “fix” in the new year, think about everything that happened that you are grateful for. What are you satisfied with? What happened that made you happiest? Don’t judge or evaluate, just list as many as you can. If you struggle with this, start with small things, consider anything positive about your health, or your family, or your relationships. Just jot those things down.

Note how often your mind starts moving to the negative areas – those things that were dissatisfying or challenging. If those things pop up in your mind, write them down as well. Don’t fight it. Although the goal here is to focus on the positive, you don’t want to deny that those other areas exist. What you want to do is make sure your satisfaction or gratitude list is greater than your dissatisfaction list. This will shift the exercise from looking at the things that are weaknesses and that you need to do, to building off the things that are your strengths or that you enjoy and that you want to do more of. If you have more negative than positive items on the list, you can’t complete the exercise until you spend a little time to reverse that.

Once you finish the list, take a moment to reflect on all the things that created satisfaction. Are there themes that you see? Are there common feelings that these have created? Are there consistent scenarios? These will give you a sense of what’s truly most important to you from a much deeper level than just s superficial list of tasks that need to be done. And this depth will help you to really focus and act on those areas in a productive way.

Finally, review the list and consider these questions:

  • How can I do more of those things?
  • What do I need to change so I can feel that way more often?
  • Are there shifts that need to happen for me to think about those things more regularly?

You now have the basis of determining your new goals, objectives, and resolutions. This will help you overcome the obstacles that may be getting in your way (some of which you may have experienced over and over) and help you make truly transformational changes to achieve higher levels of success and satisfaction. If you focus on gratitude, it can be the building block for extraordinary results.

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