December 19, 2012

The Real World Gratitude Bucket

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By now, I'm sure you're aware that Contactually is an online software service that focuses on bringing you the technological tools that you need to better manage your contacts and professional relationships. But, software is a digital phenomenon. This contrasts with our relationships, which are ultimately anchored in our real world. So, when we're seeking ways and methods to improve our relationships, we need to remember to "keep it real," so to speak. This blog post will give you an idea to help you do just that.

In thinking about the year to come

The end of the year is typically a time to reflect on all that we are thankful for, including our successes and the lessons that we've learned from our failures. I also like to use this time of year to think about what we should do next year, as 2013 is rapidly approaching. When I was doing this kind of thinking last week, I was inspired by one of my clients, Brigid. She had an idea that is small, simple and nimble in scope, but at the end of the day is so incredibly powerful that I couldn't help but integrate it into my best practices. Since I felt this way, I thought that you might feel the same way. Let's see!

Creating your "Gratitude Bucket"

You already know that we at Contactually encourage you to bucket, or categorize, your contacts for two reasons: 1) your follow-up efforts will be substantially more effective once you categorize your contacts and assign rules to them; and 2) putting your contacts into buckets helps give context to your relationships so you know what to talk about and when. But how can we create "real buckets" filled with the people in our lives?

When I was talking to Brigid, one of my clients, she told me about a concept she developed called the Gratitude Bucket. She said, "I am going to put a physical bucket in my kitchen, and I'll label it the Gratitude Bucket. I'll place a pad of paper and a pen next to it. Whenever I or someone in my family experience moments of gratitude for which we're thankful, we can use the paper and the bucket to record those experiences. Hopefully the bucket will fill up throughout the year, and next December we can take a look at our Gratitude Bucket and see just how good the year has been.

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Adding a colorful twist

Since Contactually is all about relationships, I figured we could take the Gratitude Bucket practice and apply a little twist! Instead of a pad of paper, let's instead have two different colored pads. I thought I could use one color for the things for which I'm grateful, and another color that I reserved for the people that inspired or affected the event or thing for which I found gratitude.

Give it a try! Whenever you fill out one of the pieces of paper, ask yourself, "Have I already told that person that I'm thankful for their action?" If not, then make sure you do so by sending an email, or calling that person the same day. Don't forget to make a note of your interaction in Contactually!

What's great about this system? By completing these small action items, you are becoming systematic about saying thank you in a way that is truly genuine. It will bring you closer to the people you care about, while increasing your presence in their mind. It's a truly simple gesture that produces wonderful results.

Better yet, at the end of the year when you're thinking about cooking that turkey for your family or addressing your holiday greeting cards, you have a huge arsenal of the people to whom you should reach out and thank, right under your nose. If you want a small test, I challenge you to go above and beyond by writing a small yet meaningful personalized note to those contacts for whom you should be thankful.

As you can see, something small and simple like Brigid's Gratitude Bucket can turn into a very powerful tool when it comes to deepening your relationships. Don't underestimate the positive impact that being truly grateful will have on your personal wellbeing as well! After all, you might get a solid taste of that elusive thing that we're all chasing: happiness.

If you like this idea, commit to it by sending me an email or writing a comment below stating "I'm in!" Then, we'll be able to see just how much happiness you're able to obtain. Cheers, and happy holidays!