A physician coaching client of mine experienced a recent major setback, while in the throes of preparing to open his new practice. His was the kind of setback that is not typically discussed publicly, but may occur more often than we realize.
He sank into a significant depression.
The triggers for his negative mood included a sense of overwhelm about all that had to be handled to open his new business, a lack of confidence that he could pull it off, and a disconnection from his long-standing identity as a physician in a different specialty.
Six weeks later, thanks to his own insights about needing to seek help, excellent support from his network, and his own efforts, my client is back on track with renewed energy, zest and optimism.
I share this story to illustrate the power of a gratitude journal. In response to my suggestion, my client began writing down, almost daily, the small things for which he was grateful, despite his poor mood.
In his words,
"I began to focus on the positive and realized that by doing so, I could begin to turn bad into good. It's so much easier, when you're depressed, to turn good in to bad but it leaves you feeling a whole lot worse. The opposite is true when you work on finding what it is you're grateful for."
With Thanksgiving weekend drawing to a close, it seems appropriate to mention a gratitude journal, as it occurred to me that this might be one of the more helpful tools at your disposal, while facing the sometimes daunting challenge of switching careers or starting a new business.
In mild to moderate depression, keeping a gratitude journal and writing gratitude letters have even been touted as mood elevators that are comparable to antidepressant medications.
One thing is apparent. Being thankful and expressing gratitude for those things in your life that are going right are powerful mechanisms that contribute to your overall sense of well-being.
Maybe it's time to make a Thanksgiving resolution -- Are you willing to find ways to express your gratitude as you launch or grow your entrepreneurial venture, in order to "vaccinate" yourself against overwhelm and depression?
Here's an interesting blog post on three simple inexpensive activities you can engage in to increase your happiness quota! Nice to reinforce the proof that expressing gratitude works.