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Why & How: Start a Gratitude Journal To Be a Better Leader

November 13, 2019
Why & How: Start a Gratitude Journal To Be a Better Leader

Want to be a better leader? It's time to start a gratitude journal. All this requires is reflecting on what you're grateful for and simply writing it down.

If you talk to anyone about developing a practice of gratitude, this is likely where they will start.

1. What is Gratitude Journaling?

Journaling can be as simple as maintaining a notebook or a file on your phone or computer where you list things that you’re grateful for. Alternately, you can use tools with specific prompts such as a gratitude journal or an app.

Journaling is the idea of taking notice of the things that happened during the day that you should be grateful for. A lot of times, it's easy for us to focus on the bad or the stressful. When we think like this, all of the great things that happened throughout the day are diminished into nothing.

Instead of letting this happen, journaling lets you take control and document all the things that have occurred – even the ones you may have missed while they were happening.

2. When and where should I journal the things I'm grateful for?

But just like reflection and meditation, to build a practice of journaling it’s best to start with structured times.

If you’re taking the time to reflect on gratitude, it’s just the work of a few minutes more to write it down. You can just write bullets or take the time to write in a longer form, whichever works better for you.

Similarly, at the end of your workday, you might consider using a daily calendar where you can document your areas of gratitude on the back of each day’s page. Or – you can even put it in your Sales PlayBook! This way, you can visit what you're grateful for when you check out your weekly goals.

Some people find it helpful to use a gratitude jar or box. You can keep it simple or decorate the outside, then keep slips of paper and pens nearby. As you think of things you are grateful for throughout the day, write them down and add them to the jar or box.

While reflection and meditation tend to work best as daily practices, you may find that journaling is either a daily or a weekly activity. Figure out the cadence that works best for you.

Daily journaling allows you to be closer to a situation and details are likely top of mind. But daily journaling may begin to feel like a chore. Weekly journaling may provide perspective as you look back on a longer period of time and see how different situations affected each other, but you will likely forget some details of each day.

3. How do I know what to put in my gratitude journal?

If journaling seems challenging to you, consider writing a letter or email of gratitude to a specific person instead. You’ll get the same benefits as journaling whether or not you decide to send your letter.

Lucky for you, we put together a gratitude journal worksheet that you can use to inform what to put in your journal. Remember, this is our baseline for what should be in a gratitude. Feel free to add or change the prompt to better fit your own needs!

Gratitude Journal Worksheet Example:

a. Something good that happened today/this week:

I finally figured out how to resolve a SharePoint issue that has been bothering me for weeks! Also, I got great feedback on a webinar I delivered yesterday, and I’m incredibly grateful it went well because I was feeling stressed about it.

b. Three (or more) people I am grateful to and what I’m grateful to them for:

My sister Sarah always knows just the right thing to say and reaches out to me just when I need to hear from someone.
My coworkers Arianna and Laura push me to be a better writer, support my ideas, and challenge me when I need it.
My old client Michael reached out to reconnect and I’m grateful he thought of me.

c. Something in the future I’m grateful for:

This morning, I found out just in time about a ticket pre-sale for an event I was looking forward to attending, and I was able to get a great ticket before it sold out. I’m grateful for what will be both a fun and educational event.

d. Something I see/hear around me I’m grateful for:

My office door – we recently moved from an open-plan office, and I’m grateful every day that I have a door I can close when I need to focus.

e. Something about myself I’m grateful for:

My love of learning – it’s my greatest character strength and something that adds to my life every day. That reminds me that I’m also grateful to Michael Moon, who introduced the character strengths survey to me.

f. Something silly I’m grateful for:

I found candy on sale and got Reese’s for just $.32! I may have bought quite a lot of them…

Here’s a blank template you can use for yourself or share with your team:

1. Something good that happened today/this week:
2. Three (or more) people I am grateful to and what I’m grateful to them for:
3. Something in the future I’m grateful for:
4. Something I see/hear around me I’m grateful for:
5. Something about myself I’m grateful for:
6. Something silly I’m grateful for:

Or, click here do download the PDF version!

4. How do I review my gratitude journal?

Once you’ve developed the practice of journaling, you have created an opportunity to review past areas of gratitude.

Just like journaling, this can be more or less structured.

When you’re having a difficult day, consider looking back through your gratitude journal and thinking of all the good in your life and all you have to be grateful for. That can help you shake off the stress of the current situation and put you in a more positive mindset.

In addition to the “as needed” review, consider specific times you might plan to review your areas of gratitude. For example, if you document areas of gratitude at work, you may want to review them before a team meeting so you can share with your team. Even if you don’t share, you’ll approach the meeting in a more positive, collaborative way.

5. How can I use my journal to impact those around me?

The practices of reflection, journaling, and review will provide significant emotional and physical benefits. To achieve these social and professional benefits of gratitude, you’ll need to build a practice of sharing your areas of gratitude.

As with each of the practices above, consider both structured and unstructured times throughout the day where you can share your gratitude.

At work:

Set aside a few minutes in team meetings to share what you’re grateful for and encourage your team to do the same. During your end-of-day reflections, when you think of people who have contributed to what you’re grateful for, consider sending them a quick email. If you tend to do a regular walk-through of your office at some point throughout the day, consider sharing gratitude with everyone as you talk to them or with specific people who stand out to you.

At home:

Share what you're grateful for around the dinner table. And I don’t mean once a year at Thanksgiving! Whenever you’re together for dinner as a family, consider asking each person what they are grateful for from the past day and sharing yours as well. You could also share your end-of-day gratitude journal with a partner – it can be a powerful practice to do together, each person reflecting and journaling, then sharing and discussing.

Both at work and at home, look for moments to share gratitude. Remember to share gratitude when people go above and beyond as well as when people successfully do what’s expected. When’s the last time you thanked someone for doing the dishes or laundry?

Consider both verbal and written expressions of gratitude, as well as gifts.

Simply telling someone why you are grateful for them is impactful in the moment, but writing it down in a note, email, card, or letter can provide them with something they’ll keep and review in the future. When you are sending birthday and anniversary cards, consider writing a sentence or two about why you are grateful to know the recipient.

Take the time to buy some nice thank you cards so you have them when you want to send someone a note. You might even set a recurring reminder once or twice a month to send someone a thank you note.

Gifts aren’t necessary to demonstrate gratitude, but they can be a nice token. At work, consider maintaining a few $5-10 gift cards. When you want to express your thanks, you can give the person a note or card and the gift card as well.


Remember, gratitude is a natural part of being a leader. As a leader, you only as good as your team.

Take the time to create a gratitude journal to ensure that you're doing your part in being a great leader.

Want to learn more about gratitude and leadership? Check out our eBook:

Being a Grateful Leader eBook

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