Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How to Celebrate National Thank You Month

I was surprised who was appearing on the FOX 4 Good Day TV Show last week prior to me. Do you remember Rob Schneider from Saturday Night Live? He did the skit where he said, "Steve-O, makin' some copies" and he's been in a lot of funny movies.

He's really not as short as he looks in this picture - my son Alex is really tall!

FOX 4 asked me to do a segment on "How to Put the Attitude of Gratitude into Action at Work and Home." (Click here to watch the segment). While we were setting up the props we ran into Rob Schneider. One way to express gratitude is to smile and make someone laugh - which is what Rob is good at!

Thank you Rob for making me laugh!

January is National Thank You Month. Gratitude, or saying "Thank You," has been called one of the 3 most important virtues along with compassion and forgiveness. People in the Smart Zone know how to show gratitude.

Here are Smart Moves for how to say thank you to the people you see every day:

  • Teachers: Teachers often hear parental complaints instead of our praise. Send a note or email to your kid's teacher thanking her/him for the work she does. Or better yet, brag about how much you love her to the school principal.

  • Boss: Bosses, like teachers, often hear more complaints than compliments. When your boss does something well, pay her a sincere compliment like, "You did a nice job running the staff meeting this morning. I appreciated your support." Better yet, thank your boss for a job well done in front of others. This is a really nice confidence booster and won't be forgotten.

  • Coworkers: Bring bagels or donuts to your weekly staff meeting for coworkers. Or surprise a co-worker when you go on a Starbucks run by bringing a coffee back for him.

  • Employees: Remember birthdays. Remembering some one's birthday makes them feel special and appreciated - it says "thank you for being you." We celebrate birthdays in my office and I'll never forget a new employee I had that didn't know this. She was so surprised on her birthday and it meant so much that she still brings it up. Decorate their inbox or cubicle. That is always a way to make someone feel special.

  • Kids: Call or set them aside for a minute just to tell them thank you. Be specific about what you are thanking them for and how it made you feel. Taking out the trash at my house is a huge job - I have 3 boys. When I got home from work recently the trash was already sitting out in the alley for the following morning because my son was staying overnight at a friend's house. I called him just to tell him thank you. He couldn't believe it!

  • Parents: Did you enjoy a recent get-together with family? Possibly over the holidays? Frame a fun photo from the event and give it to your parents.

  • Waiter: Get the waiter off topic during your initial conversation. It can be so repetitious being a waiter so make his/her day more fun by being more conversational, which doesn't always mean more personal. Also, let the waiter know if you want separate checks first thing and leave when you are through eating so your waiter's table can open up for another tipping customer. And of course, TIP.

  • Mailman: Wave and talk to the mail man when you have a chance and, better yet, keep the area in front of your mailbox clear of cars, snow and trash cans.

  • Grocery store cashier: Greet and smile at the cashier when it's your turn. Stay off your cell phone. If you see the groceries piling up then be willing to bag the groceries yourself. Partially writing out your check while the cashier is scanning also shows you appreciate your cashier's time.

  • Dry Cleaner: My dry cleaner has a candy dish and fresh flowers on the container. By just noticing these small things and acknowledging how pretty the flowers are I am thanking them for their extra effort to brighten my day!

  • Pets: My dog Sophie loves treats and walking around the neighborhood. If you have a dog-friendly pet you can even visit some of the dog parks for a play date. If you are taking care of someone's dog, write a letter from the dog for the owners to receive when they get back from vacation. It is a nice way to set someone at ease who leaves their prized possession in your care. It is also a nice way to say "thank you for trusting me."

What can you notice about people you see each day? Be creative in who and how you thank people. Get to know people well enough to know what they like - you don't have to be nosy or spend a lot of money. My favorite way to be thanked is with a Diet Coke from Sonic!

Stay in the Smart Zone by thanking someone this month!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why I Hate New Year's Resolutions

I love Diet Coke. A few years ago my New Year's resolution was to give up Diet Coke. Shortly after that I decided my future New Year's resolutions would focus on a positive change rather than giving something up. So I changed my resolution to "I will drink more water." But I still love Diet Coke and still drink it occasionally. If I start drinking it too much it's easy to pull back and drink more water.

If you have already started making New Year's Resolutions please don't stop. However, here are a few reasons why I hate them:

  • 12 months is too long. Scientific research says that smaller, short-term goals that can be readily achieved are better than big, long-term goals. Big, lofty goals that are hard to achieve can actually discourage us instead of motivate us. In my case, my resolution should be to drink water instead of Diet Coke for 1 week.

  • Everyone is doing it. The gym is packed. I had to wait in line for a treadmill this week for the first time since last January. By February the gym crowd will drop down to a normal level. If we make too many resolutions all at once and for the wrong reasons (like because everyone is doing it) then it can have a negative effect on our motivation and success.

  • It gives you an excuse to procrastinate. In November you should really eat well and stick to a budget but we end up eating and spending throughout the holidays with the justification that we'll do better beginning in January. People who pick up a cigarette again in March justify smoking the remainder of the year and then set the New Year's resolution once more for the next year. New Year's resolutions can become a delay tactic for making timely changes in your life.

  • January is the worst time to start your New Year's resolutions. Making major changes when you are tired from a busy holiday season instead of resting may mean you don't have the energy to make them work. The holiday bills will start rolling in soon and it can be a time of anxiety and discouragement.

  • January shouldn't be so special. My Director of Client Relations who books me to speak, Zan Jones, disagrees with this statement because her birthday is this month (Happy Birthday Zan-a-Do!). Every day you wake up should be new day. Ask yourself, "What can I do today that will help me achieve my goal." Goals should be made throughout the year. Change and update what you want to achieve after every success and failure.

To stay in the Smart Zone this year don't make any resolutions. Instead take your most important goal, decide what you can do this very minute and work towards it. Enjoy the clean slate that comes with the New Year and do the best you can each and every day.

Happy New Year!