In high school, I compared myself to others. I thought my classmates were smarter, better dressed and happier. I wanted to be just like them. The little voice in my head wouldn’t leave me alone.
“Why don’t you look like a Victoria’s Secret model?”
“Why is math so easy for Brady and so difficult for you?”
“Why does Stephanie have so many friends? Everyone loves her.”
As a freshman and sophomore, the little voice in my head continued to haunt me. It wanted me to be on the dean’s list. It wanted me to be president of my sorority, and it wanted me to find the perfect boyfriend.
As a junior and senior, I wanted to have a successful career and run my own company. I didn’t know in what industry, but I envisioned myself having my own company.
I made incredible friends in college who taught me it’s good to want more. (“It’ll keep you motivated.”) My friends also offered the following advice: “It’s important to channel your energy for good, and do not let your inadequacies destroy you.”
Kristin was one of my closest Sonoma State University friends, and she and I remain very close today. She is smart, diligent, fun and a leader that other students wanted to follow.
I asked, “Kristin, how do you do it?”
“It’s easy to compare yourself to others and get frustrated with yourself. There are always going to be people better and more successful than you. If you focus on what you do have, it will make you happier and motivate you to do even better.”
She shared her secret. “Each night before I go to bed, I write down three things I’m grateful for. I keep a notebook next to my bed. If I’m having a really tough day, I’ll review past entries to remind myself of all the incredible things I have in my life. I wake up feeling better and ready to tackle the day.”
Because of Kristin, I now have my own Gratitude Journal. (I selected a journal cover that represents me well; there are a lot to choose from). Each night before I go to bed, I write three things I’m grateful for. Here’s a recent entry:
Dec. 9, 2017:
Good day at the Dallas office. Had quiet time to tackle my to-do list.
I’m grateful for:
- My business partner Shawn. He’s kind, supportive and the perfect balance.
- My team’s ability to come up with new marketing ideas. They are bringing unique ideas to the table that we can implement relatively quickly.
- My friend Linda Veatch. She allows me to stay with her and her family when I come to Dallas. She and the kids make me feel so loved and part of the family. It puts me in a good mood and helps me to be more productive at work.
I have discovered some positive side effects from my journal writing:
- Having gratitude helps me be more trusting, more thankful and more social.
- I am a better boss. Because I have taken the time to appreciate my team members in my journal, I can’t help but appreciate them 24/7. A common complaint I hear from employees is that their bosses don’t appreciate or recognize their work. Often, they only hear from their boss when they have criticism. Gratitude has taught me to compliment and give praise to my team by recognizing work that goes above and beyond. When my employees feel appreciated and valued, the quality of their work improves and, hopefully, they are more excited to work with me. The more my team produces, the easier my job becomes.
- My productivity has increased. Being grateful makes me feel better about me. I am more focused and I appreciate how fortunate I really am. As my father says, “Life is good.”
The little journal on my night stand has transformed the little voice in my head. Instead of whining, wishing and complaining, the little voice in my head tells me: “You are beautiful.”
“Math is overrated.” “People love you.”
When I wake up each morning, I am happy and ready to conquer the world. I encourage you to try gratitude journaling, or a similar exercise that allows you to reflect inward, and see what it does for your personal and professional life. It may surprise you.
This article was originally published in the January 2018 issue of PS Magazine.