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The Big Picture
Rebecca "Becky" Coates Nee, a veteran TV news anchor/reporter, is a professional life/career coach. Check out her website at to take the coachability test, subscribe to her free "Beyond the Box" newsletter and to find out if you're an adrenaline junkie.

Being Thankful in Spite of Yourself
By Rebecca Coates Nee
November 19th, 2001

I used to hate Thanksgiving. It was just another reminder that I had no real
life outside of my job in TV news. Instead of sitting down to a stuffed
turkey with Norman Rockwell’s family, I was inevitably at a homeless shelter,
doing the obligatory story about how many needy mouths were or were not fed
that day. My holiday lunch consisted of fast food and my dinner ambiance – if
no news orphans had planned a gathering – was created by the aroma of canned

One Thanksgiving, when I was feeling particularly sorry for myself, a
homeless man approached me as I waited for my photographer to finish getting
shots of the food line.
"Why you frown?" he asked me. "Because I’m working – again – on a holiday,"
I snorted back. "At least you have a job," he said and walked away.

At the time, his comment did nothing more than make me feel guilty. But now,
I do recognize the pettiness of my behavior. "We are always getting ready to
live but never really living," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. "This time, like
all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it."

That’s the challenge so many of us face – whether we’re broadcasters,
coaches or parents. How do we make the present perfect when so much around us
doesn’t seem perfect at all? Many researchers believe most people spend 80
percent of their thoughts in the future or the past. Fear and worry put us in
the future while guilt and regret send us back to the past. That leaves a
measly 20 percent to enjoy the present and take advantage of all its

The present may not seem perfect to you – but it is where you’ve chosen to
put yourself. Whatever your current circumstances are, take responsibility
for them. Even if we think we are victims of a tight job market, bad
relationship or unfair industry, most of you reading this are where you are
because of the choices you’ve made. That doesn’t mean our choices always
turn out the way we hoped, but our most valuable lessons are usually learned
when things don’t go as planned.

For example, if you’re discouraged because you can’t get a job in a bigger
market, you may develop a resentful attitude about where you are today. With
that kind of an attitude, how can you possibly attract a prospective employer
or put together stories good enough to get you where you think you want to be?

Figure out where you would like to be five years from now. Then decide what
kind of a person you need to be to get there. Become that person now. Don’t
wait for the perfect opportunities to fall in your lap. We create a
high-quality life by living one, not by waiting for it to come.

Ask yourself what IS perfect about today (even if you’re doing the shelter
story on Thanksgiving). Then ask what isn’t perfect yet and decide what
you’re willing to do to make it that way. Most importantly, ask yourself how
you can have fun along the way.

If you approach each day the way my kitten does — full of energy, inspiration
and curiosity about the world around you, you’ll understand that the present
is indeed a gift.