It’s easy to find ourselves so busy that we forget to thank the people who make a difference in our lives.
I recently was invited to an interesting workshop titled Legacy, Love Letters and Heart Wills. It was generously hosted by the Royal Oak Burial Park (ROBP) and delivered by Reena & Michelle who run Willow – an organization created to help people prepare for the end of life in a positive way. A group of over 20 women of all ages came together to explore what we might want our legacy to be and what messages of love and appreciation we might want to leave behind for the people we care about. It was a wonderful day of sharing and it was an important reminder about the importance of showing appreciation. I’d like to thank Lorraine Fracey of ROBP who was the driving force behind making this event happen and who has helped so many people, including my mum and I, deal with the passing of a loved one (in our case my dad) in such a caring and compassionate way.
When should we show appreciation?
A portion of the workshop was focused writing a letter to someone you care about, to be read after your passing. The premise is that none of us know when our lives will end, sometimes it can happen abruptly, though we do know for sure that for all of us, at some point, that day will come. These letters allow us to share sentiments with loved ones that we may never get to say in person.
After the workshop I talked to my Mum who’s in her 90’s, about the concept of writing a heart will or love letters to be shared after her passing and she declared “I don’t have to – I tell you all the time how much I love you and appreciate all you do for me” and it’s true she does. Each time I visit, or talk with her on the phone, her parting greeting is “I love you SO much and I’m so appreciative of all you do for me and make sure you pass my love on to the boys (my husband and grown son).” With the additional admonishment “Don’t forget to tell them now”. We’re never left in any doubt about how much Mum appreciates and love us, but I sometimes wonder if I tell her often enough how much I appreciate her unconditional love & support – probably not as much as I could.
The time to show appreciation is NOW
What I came away with from this workshop was the conviction that we don’t need to wait until we pass on to share this information – why not tell people how much you appreciate them right now? We seem to be very good at catching people when they’re doing something wrong – I’m thinking that it would be great to catch people when they’re doing something right – especially if it’s something that is making a positive difference for us and others.
We all have people in our lives who day in and day out, do good work, smile when they see us, listen when we need to talk something through, connect us with people and resources who could be beneficial for us, support us as we strive for our goals and love us even when we don’t always feel so loveable ourselves. It’s easy to take these people for granted, but just imagine if you paused and took a moment, once in a while, to tell them how much you appreciate them and why. It doesn’t take much time and the positive energy you transmit to them when you do this will brighten their day and everyone who interacts with them will benefit. You’ll also experience a sense of positivity just from doing this for someone else and everyone in your life will benefit too.
I was the recipient of a wonderful note of appreciation on International Womens’ Day recently. It still lights me up any time I think of it. It was from a young woman who had recently moved to Victoria completed my online priority setting workshop “What’s Important to Me NOW?”. The goal of this workshop is to create a safe and confidential space for you to get crystal clear on your priorities. Once you have this information, you can make life and career choices that support your priorities and that’s empowering. I was so grateful that she took the time to tell me with such enthusiasm what a positive difference completing this workshop had made for her.
Who are the people in your life that you really appreciate?
At work it may be your co-workers, a mentor, the HR staff, the front-desk staff, the cleaner, your clients and if you’re really lucky, your boss.
In your personal life it may be your partner, siblings, parents, friends and others in your social network. It can even be the person at the cash register in a store you regularly visit who always has a smile or a welcoming word for you.
When you take time to show your appreciation both you and the recipient of your appreciation feel good.
Here are some simple ways to show you care:
- When you next see them tell them “I just want to let you know that I appreciate you for … (explain what it is you most appreciate)
- Send an email thanking them
- Write a letter telling them what you appreciate
- Send a “Thank You” card
- Send an electronic card – pick a theme you know they’ll enjoy
- Send a private LinkedIn or FB message telling them what you appreciate about them
- Write a note to their boss telling them about what they did/do and why you appreciate them
- Nominate them for an award
- Surprise them with flowers and a thank you note – a single flower in a bud vase or a small potted plant can be as powerful as a huge bouquet
- Give them a cupcake or other small treat (assuming their diet permits this)
- Tell others how much you appreciate them – word will no doubt get back to them
- Introduce them to others who could help their career or business
- Arrange a coffee meeting and tell them face to face
- Give them a gift of Sue’s “What’s Important to Me NOW?” online workshop – it’s like having a private coaching session with me, focused on identifying their top priorities (available on my website www.SueMaitland.com/store)
How often should I show my appreciation?
If you do it too often or make it a routine thing, it can lose its’ impact. I know my mum appreciates me, but I probably don’t need to hear it every time I see her or speak on the phone but it’s something she feels she needs to do and I understand that.
Appreciation is ideally tied to something specific that someone has done and ideally you’ll show your appreciation right away rather that weeks or months after the event.
If you’d like to enjoy the positive benefits of showing more appreciation to others in your life, follow these simple steps
5 easy steps to become more appreciative
- Be observant and try to catch people doing something right (no matter how small) and thank them right away
- Set aside time daily or weekly to reflect on the people in your life that you appreciate and capture your observations in an appreciation journal.
- Think about the most appropriate way to thank people based on what you know about them – it means so much more if it’s personalized
- Make it a habit to show appreciation to at least one or two people in your life every week
- When updating your journal, reflect on the ways you have supported others recently – self-appreciation is an important part of self-care
The positive energy you transmit when you appreciate others will generate positive energy in you too.
If you’re interested in getting the same sense of empowerment that the young woman who moved to Victoria did, from getting crystal clear on her priorities, consider investing in lifetime access to the What’s Important to Me NOW? online workshop. Taking time to think about your needs will reduce your stress and help you make powerful choices in your personal and professional life. You can also give this as a gift to someone you care about. Here’s a link with all the details: www.SueMaitland.com/store
Sue Maitland PCC is and ICF accredited professional life & career transitions coach. She works mostly with professionals and business owners who want to start living a more satisfying and fulfilled life. Contact Sue at SueMaitland@shaw.ca or 778-265-6880 if you’d like to know about her services to help you successfully navigate life and/or career transitions.