Make This The Season for Gratitude and Giving in Your Career

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Hollywood has depicted the stress of the holidays with iconic movies that make us laugh (or cry!) because of the relatability of the zany characters and dysfunctional scenarios in life and career. I encourage you to start this festive season with a different mindset so you don't get caught running on the hamster wheel of stress.

Redirect your worries by focusing on others in your professional life. Be sure to take time to consider what you are grateful for in your career since stress often prevents us from recognizing what is going well.

In the best scenario, your example of giving and grateful behavior will cause a culture shift and encourage others to pay it forward in your workplace as well. Here are some action steps to get you started.

The Lost Art of a Thank You Note. A handwritten thank you note is a rarity these days -- so much so that I cherish those I receive and keep them in a special place. Carve out time to write a personal note to the people in your professional world who have made an impact in your life. The hand written note of thanks is a special communication that trumps technology in sentiment and gesture. Give someone a reason to get excited about receiving snail mail.

Culture of Advocacy. Workplace cultures thrive when professionals feel recognized and validated for their efforts. Create a Wins Board or give your deserving colleagues a public shout out at meetings to recognize them for accomplishments in a public way. In my workplace we end staff meetings with an all-play report of wins, which closes a meeting with positivity and energy! When we authentically cheer on our colleagues, it boosts morale and productivity.

Make an Introduction. Introductions are important for all professionals -- not just job seekers. Comb your network and consider how you can make targeted connections for colleagues with like-minded careerists beyond your organization. You might just lay the foundation for a future mentor, partnership, or employment opportunity.

Not So Random Act of Kindness . Consider how you can make the day for someone in your work environment with something small but meaningful. Perhaps a gift card for a specialty coffee drink or a favorite book that empowered you with career wisdom. The gift of time, if you are in a supervisory role and can permit a colleague to leave early on a day when they could benefit from a few extra hours away from work is always appreciated. You need not break the bank to show someone you care.

LinkedIn Recommendation. This online platform boasts millions of members and is the ultimate connector in the professional realm. Offer to write a LinkedIn recommendation for someone whose work you know well to illustrate his or her specific strengths and accomplishments. This endorsement will shine a spotlight on someone and up their chances of being recruited or promoted for the great work they have done. They may even reciprocate and write one on your behalf!

How Can I Help You? A wise mentor encouraged me take 30 minutes a day to help someone in need. The opportunity to help others has been gratifying to me in countless ways and has further developed me as a leader. Pose the question, "How can I help you be more successful in your job? "to colleagues above and below you on the hierarchical ladder in your organization and you will create deeper and more meaningful relationships that foster collaboration at work.

Share a Job Posting. As a career and executive coach, I believe you need to take control of your career destiny so it doesn't happen by default. A savvy professional will be thinking about an exit and/or a growth strategy at all times so they always have options. If you come across a job posting that may be a great fit for a friend or colleague, send it their way. Whether you are happy in your current role or not, you should always be aware of other opportunities.

Career Gratitude . Oprah introduced "The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude" by Sarah Ban Breathnach back in 1996 and created a culture of giving daily thanks that still resonates today. I encourage you to consider what is going well in your professional life. Write it down, say it out loud, and give yourself a pat on the back. By giving thanks and celebrating your wins -- and the success of your colleagues, you can enter the holiday season with a refreshed attitude, more energy, and avoid the ubiquitous cycle of stress.

Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book, "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" now in the second edition, and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Career & Professional Development at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to Ellevate, CNN Money, and the British online magazine - The Rouse. She is hosting a webisode series called Thrive! about career & life empowerment for women and hosts the international podcast series Your Working Life- check it out on iTunes. Follow her on Facebook,LinkedIn, and Twitter.