Twenty years ago, I began an important exercise. When life gets tough enough to keep me awake at night, I pull out a journal, then jot three things from the day that were positive, just before turning out the light. Simplistic, yes, but with time, it actually does make a difference. I refer to it as my Three Things.
In the past, there were lists that required serious effort (the Cheerios stayed crunchy until the last bite). Eventually, Three Things became a running stream of positives—I trained myself to see upbeat moments during the day instead of letting them race by unnoticed.
As a result, it’s been a long, long time since Cheerios were a high point (she says, with gratitude).
How does this translate for merchants this holiday season?
Given how rough the economy has been, the news has become, and we’re all feeling, I suggest we pause, then launch our own public Three Things list. Think of it as a positive version of the very unfortunate Border’s list, where we opt instead to share good will and thanks with our neighbors.
Happy and grateful sells. Ire and anger do not.
1. Get your hands on an upright sign or huge sheet of paper (can be the back side of rolled wrapping paper, keeping with the holiday spirit)
2. Place the sign/hang the paper in a prominent spot right by your business’s front door
3. At the top write “What we’re thankful for this holiday season,” followed by three things you and your staff came up with together
4. Each day, add another thing you’re thankful for
5. Continue growing the list through New Year’s (or you run out of paper)
Upbeat, happy words of gratitude go a long way—with staff, with customers, and with passers by. You’ll begin to see folks check back now and then to see what’s new on the list. They’ll mention it to friends. Good, positive buzz will ensue.
Resist the urge to include news-related terms (think: “occupy,” “Amazon,” and other monikers that risk raising one’s blood pressure). Instead, keep it simple. Non-political. Non-polarizing. Human. Warm. Sincere. Hearfelt.
As Erin Burnett put it a couple of years ago, while reminding viewers not to cave in to media negativity, “You have to try because psychology is important.”
As I put it, “There’s enough negative talk already. Let’s raise the bar.”
That backward roll of wrapping paper might be the best investment made during this harried holiday season. Grab the Sharpie—time to get writing.
It’s time for Three Things.