Picture of the words "thank you" written by hand on a piece of paper. The pen is still visible in the picture and has just completed the "u" in the word "you".

A Year-End Exercise in Gratitude

Dave Leadership, Personal Growth

It’s the end of the year! You’re probably cranking on closing contracts and projects before the holidays hit and everything goes dead. Some of you are also doing your year-end review and strategic planning for next year. I know you’re busy. Nevertheless, I’d like to add a year-end exercise in gratitude to your plate. It’ll take an hour or less but I promise it will make a big impact on you and others.

Why is a year-end exercise in gratitude important?

No matter which personal growth guru you follow, I’m sure at some point they’ve talked about the value of gratitude. Gratitude is one of the keys to leading a happy life! If you want to be happy in your career, pushing pause to consciously feel the gratitude stemming from your work experiences will help you get there.

Gratitude is also a gift you can share: telling the people who made you feel gratitude what they did, and why, will make them feel great, in turn! It’s a fantastic opportunity to be vulnerable, deepen a relationship, and give someone an unexpected boost of good feeling at the end of the year.

A one hour exercise in gratitude

Reserve an hour at some point over the quiet period at the end of the year to do this year-end exercise. For 10-20 minutes think over your prior year. Who left a lasting positive impact on you? Who touched your life in a meaningful way? Who went out of their way to help you? Who did something that made you feel good? Taught you an important lesson? Who showed you loyalty? Picked you up when you were down? Went above and beyond their “role”? As each memory comes back to you, take a moment to enjoy it again. Take a moment to feel the gratitude all over again. Hopefully, you’ll think of a ton of great examples, but a few will rise to the top.

Share the gratitude

Take the remainder of your hour to write each of the top three to five people on your list a quick email. Put on your vulnerability hat. Tell them why what they did mattered to you and how it made you feel. Don’t think about whether you report to them, they report to you, or if they’re a vendor or a client. Simply connect human to human. Be honest and raw with them. Now send the emails! There’s benefit to doing this exercise even if you don’t send them, but why keep it all to yourself? Send them!

The aftermath

Every time I do an exercise like this, I’m left with a warm glow. I’ve spent some time dwelling in and increasing my level of gratitude, and I know that by sharing my feelings I’ve taken the opportunity to touch other people’s lives in a meaningful way. It also helps switch my focus to the best parts of my year. Even if I had a tough year and had my ass kicked with regularity, this exercise helps me recapture the best parts as I move into my new year.

Keep the gratitude going

Every person you email will receive your gratitude and feel good. If you’d also like to help them share their gratitude and keep the gratitude flowing, feel free to share this article with them! If you’re so inclined, please cut and paste this beneath your email:


If you would like to do your own year-end exercise in gratitude, check out this article. It’s a fast read and helped encourage me to send you this email!

Have a great year-end!

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