For all of us in the midst of happy careers, the headlines keep taunting us with talk (and action!) of “The Great Resignation.” From the The Wall Street Journal to The Atlantic to Inc. to Medium to the The New York Times, the stories abound of the millions of people saying goodbye to jobs they presumably once loved. Jobs that used to fit their career goals, jobs that once were callings, jobs that once brought them joy but now have brought on burnout.

Add to all this the chatter and debates about return-to-office strategies, hybrid options, remote work schedules and other present-day perplexities, and I sometimes wonder how/if any work is getting done at all. Often the whole subject of work seems riddled with sadness and despair. These days, I wonder, too, if we ever stop to think about how very good it is to have work. (This lesson was reinforced for me a few years back when I worked with an economic development client. Their main role in the community was to be a matchmaker — connect employers with ready-to-work employees. When I saw firsthand the case studies of people thrilled to have a job in their field or excited to gain an entry-level position in an up-and-coming new company, I humbly vowed to never take work for granted again.)

Perhaps you’ve recently said your own goodbye (or are shortly planning to), or, as a leader, have accepted goodbyes from some of your own team members. Certainly, goodbyes can be appropriate, life-giving and necessary. (My resignation decades ago from corporate America led to the launch of my own independent business, IER Partners — my lifetime dream job!) Resignations can indeed be one of those happy, welcomed occasions when sending a congratulations card is in order. Or, depending on the situation, a not-so-happy event calling for an encouragement card or even warranting a sympathy card.

But for me these days, all this talk of The Great Resignation has taken me down a different card aisle, shall we say. I’m camped out under the “thank you” section. One of the upsides of the pandemic for some — me included — has been the time for deeper reflection. And that’s just what I’ve been doing lately. Thinking about my three-decades-long career and feeling ever-so-grateful for so many things, I’ve felt prompted to create a list of all the things that my work has blessed me with over the years — unbidden gifts that I couldn’t have foreseen as a newly minted MBA entering the workplace, all raring to go in my new suit and heels. This list is long and varied and I’ve decided to call it My Great Thanksgiving. It’s my resume of work blessings, an antidote to all the looking down we seem to be doing about work.

Yes, there are all sorts of typical gifts I’m grateful for and hope to have never taken for granted along the way: amazingly generous mentors, smart and savvy colleagues turned friends, stimulating work all across the world, a true sense of calling and vocation. But after I jotted down these top-of-mind gifts, I paused a bit longer to reflect more deeply, and all sorts of other unexpected gifts surfaced. I became overwhelmed at the richness of my work life. I have a feeling you might have a similar experience.

It’s hard to remember who first got us all thinking about practicing gratitude more overtly (The saints? The stoics? Miss Manners? Oprah? Sarah Ban Breathnach? Ann Voskamp? Our dear mothers?), but it doesn’t really matter who, as long as we actually take the time to do it. In composing My Great Thanksgiving List, I came up with my own Inventory of Gratitude. Perhaps these questions might prompt your own unique list. Pick one or two, or ponder the whole list! (Feel free to answer in the present or reflect back on your whole career like I did. This strategic reflection is for your eyes only!)

ADVOCATES: Who are your champions? What was the advice they gave you that really made a difference? What kindness did they do for you that you can do for another?

BRAND: Years ago, Tom Peters taught us all about “The Brand Called YOU.” What kind of personal brand did you create/are you living out? Why these choices?

CREATIVITY: How does your work allow you to express your individual creative gifts? How has work helped you blossom and become?

DETOURS: Where did a meandering prove fruitful? What unexpected road did you take that led you to a surprising but positive outcome? Did a pivot off the traditional career ladder pay off?

ENERGY: What truly fuels your spirit? What project did you pour all your energy into that most pleased you?

FIERCE CONVERSATIONS: Susan Scott’s book about frank, kind and robust conversations is an integral part of all my client work. What constructive feedback did you receive that was hard to hear but also proved quite helpful?

GRACE: What do you wish you could undo? Who showed and/or showered you with grace? Forgiveness? In the spirit of Carol Dweck’s important work on fostering a growth mindset, what learning are you grateful for in this situation?

HUMBLE PIE: Failures. Oops. Messes. We’ve all made them. More. Than. Once. Which one taught you the most memorable lesson? What can you laugh about now?

IRON SHARPENS IRON: A life proverb with important work implications. Who challenges you in a fruitful way? Similarly, whom do you challenge?

JOY: Hands down, what work has brought you the most joy/most fun/most smiles? How so?

LIMINAL TIMES: In between the highs and lows, there’s always a lot happening under the surface. Author Debra Farrington taught me all about transitions and “liminal times” the often perplexing time between the old and the new. What did one of your liminal times reveal?

MENTORS-TURNED-FRIENDS: One of the best workplace gifts ever. Who are yours? Do they know their significance in your life? How can you return their kindnesses?

NOTEWORTHY: What recognition — big or small — meant the most to you? Why?

OJT: What’s one thing you learned on-the-job that could never have happened in any class?

PAY: Bottom line, our paychecks and benefits have enabled a cornucopia of provisions from our daily bread to little luxuries to charitable contributions. Name something in particular that you enjoy wholeheartedly because of your income.

QUAFF: Time for a toast! TO YOURSELF! What are you most proud of that no one but you knows about?

PARENTS: In reading former Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi’s inspiring autobiography, “My Life in Full,” I loved learning that she sent notes to her senior executives’ parents acknowledging their contributions. How did your upbringing contribute to your success?

ROUTINES: There’s a great deal of ordinary time in the workplace. What everyday routines/rituals make you smile?

SKILLS: Lots of workplace skills can spill over into our personal lives (e.g., negotiating, procuring, leading, de-escalation, team building, sharing feedback). What professional skills do you use most often in your personal life?

TRAVEL: Where did/does your work take you — literally or figuratively — that you never could have dreamt about? Not always needing/requiring suitcases or passports or PowerPoint presentations, what experiences stand out as true adventures to you?

UNCOMFORTABLENESS: One of my bosses in my corporate employee days used to say, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable” on practically a daily basis as our company was up for sale. It wasn’t my favorite piece of wisdom back then and it still isn’t, but I’ve learned that flexibility, open-mindedness and agility pay off. What uncomfortable circumstance pushed you into uncharted waters that now, in hindsight, proved to have a positive outcome?

VOCATION: I’ve always loved Frederick Buechner’s wisdom: “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” How has your calling served the greater community?

WORTHWHILE: What aspect of your work has truly been most gratifying for you? Name three of your most meaningful contributions.

X-TRA: Who has gone an extra mile — or two — or more for you of late? Who has your back and allows you to do all that you do?

YES!: What doors opened for you because you said yes and accepted a challenge?

ZEST: What makes your soul sing and soar? What part of your work would you do for free for the simple pleasure it brings you?

What a list. Relationships. Experiences. Deep work. So many blessings. So many learnings. So much gratitude. I’ve decided to make Thanksgiving a yearlong practice!