Let’s not delude ourselves, Thanksgiving has become a four day weekend, used as an excuse to overeat, drink a little more than usual, hate your family in-person, rather than from the usual afar, start mindlessly shopping for Christmas deals, and watch too much football, (while arguing with your relatives about whether the multi-millionaire NFL players – a majority of whom will end-up with brain damage, declare bankruptcy, be involved with some sort of domestic abuse matter, or other entanglement with the law – should take a knee or not), and binge watch Netflix ignoring the judgy comments asking if you are still watching because it is ten hours into the second season of Stranger Things, and even the computer algorithm thinks you should shut off the television and start thinking about your life choices.
Of course we indulge in self-righteousness, and demand that everyone at the dinner table take a few moments to be thankful for something. Usually, it is of the consumer variety. We are thankful for all the stuff we have accumulated, and secretly thankful that we are not in as bad shape as the relative who still lives in his old room, with the same posters hanging on the wall that he had when he was fourteen. Now at thirty two, he is about forty pounds overweight, playing a Resident Evil 7 Biohazard video game, and starting a new graduate program, loading his parents with even more tuition debt. But he repays them by telling them how bad they are and how guilty they should be for killing all the Native Americans.
If you sit back and really think about it, we are a nation of overgrown teenagers. What a useless, self-indulgent way to pretend to give thanks. If we actually used our intelligence, and deeply thought about this holiday, it would be completely different.
For instance, instead of the trite “I’m thankful for my family, friends, and good health”, start to think in bigger terms, change your mindset and parameters. Instead of uttering clichés to which everyone nods their heads in bovine agreement, take out a pad of paper and write down real specific things that you are thankful for, (since I specialize in writing about career advice, I will be referring to work related matters). Maybe you are thankful that you have a high IQ, and are especially good in math and science. Perhaps you are blessed with charm, charisma, good looks, and a highly evolved emotional intelligence. The lists and combinations could be endless. Once you focus in on your specific God-given gifts, as well as learned talents, education, and abilities you acquired over the years through hard work and practice, think of how you could be effectively utilizing these attributes to better your career and work life.
Instead of just being thankful, be proactive and put these abilities into action. Get off the couch, shut off the football game, and do something constructive. Create an action plan for success. Set a goal for yourself and then work like hell to crush that goal. Don’t give me that, “I’ll do it after the holidays and the New Year because I’m soooo busy” excuse. No, you won’t do it. You’ll be back at the Thanksgiving Day table next year, stuffing your fat face, complaining about the same old things, and saying “but this time it will be different”. You are just lying to yourself. Don’t wait. Do it now, or you will never do it at all.
The holiday should transform from a sedentary, lazy, selfish food fest, followed by bloated laziness, wasting four days of your too short life. Of course it is four days because now everyone takes the Friday off from work. Why, because it is easy to do it because everyone else is doing it. How about you actually work on that Friday. Maybe, just to start, even if you are too fat and bloated and hung over to go into the office, at least start working on your self-improvement at home.
The holiday should be a call for action. Think of where you are in your career. Are you happy? Have you fallen behind? Are you where you want to be in life? Where would you like to be now, five years from now, ten years from now? If you don’t know, nothing will change. Critically think of where you are going. You don’t get into a car and drive aimlessly. You have a GPS, directions and a set time table. Set your career direction. Write it down and hold yourself accountable.
Spruce up your resume, improve your LinkedIn profile, and call some recruiters to schedule meetings. Join some organizations to network, reconnect with former colleagues, and enhance existing connections to help you seek out a new job or advance within your current job. Consider going back to school at night for an additional degree, or obtain some accreditations in your field.
Take care of yourself too. Re-button your jeans, and tighten your belt back, after you loosened it due to all the food you ate. Push away from the table, get out of the house and go to the gym. It will be empty, maybe not even open, since everyone is in a food induced zombie trance. Use the holidays to buy a new interview wardrobe. Clean up your current closet with clothes that are for the job you want, not the job you have. Even though everyone else in the office may look like a slob with their so-called business casual outfit, you should look sharp and stand out.
Find ways to use your strengths, skills, and attributes to advance your career and move your life forward. What good is being thankful, if you don’t use these gifts to improve your life and the lives of everyone else around you?