How AVA CEO, Melissa Smith, Practices Gratitude
What a year it’s been! It’s really been the year where a lot of my dreams came true. At times I cry with overwhelming joy because my heart is so full. Other times I become the GIF queen and laugh until I cry.
Practicing gratitude is what kept me going for the last several years. Back when I had a dream so big there could be no plan or direct path, I had to break it down and build out three separate phases of my business. Even when my business plans seemed to be growing in small increments I would look over at my wall and see my vision in writing and knew that I was getting closer. One day I would be able to see the finish line and that kept me grateful.
Gratitude has a way of surprising you as well. I could have never known what an amazing team I would have. A team that would take my vision and make it their own. It’s been incredible and they keep me grateful daily!
Q. What is or do you have a formal process of making sure you stay grateful?
Yes! I keep a five-year journal where I write down at least one thing I’m grateful for every day. I started it back in 2017 when I was traveling the world. Now that I’m on year three I love looking back at things I forgot but immediately remember when I read it. Like a sweet text from my daughter, a sunset I enjoyed, or another precious moment that makes us remember there is always something to be grateful for.
I also keep a number of thank you cards on me and then schedule a time to replenish them. If I haven’t used up all my cards then it’s time to sit down and write to people I’m thankful to have in my life. In a perfect world, I would send at least one card a week.
Q. How do you practice gratitude?
Journaling and writing are my go-to practices for sure. I tend to get caught up in the moment when thanking someone verbally and then my message gets lost. I’m much clearer when I write. Plus, it’s also what I prefer. Going back through cards and reading what someone wrote just for me is awesome!
Q. Are you participating in gratefulness or gratitude challenges at the moment?
I’m a super competitive person. While I’m not participating in a challenge with others, I keep myself challenged to always be writing a note of thanks to someone. At least once a week.
Q. Do you have any gratefulness or gratitude practices you share with your clients?
I love sending client gifts. I send them to all my clients, even the ones I assisted years ago. Without them, I would not be in business. Each year is a new theme to celebrate them and I love how they look forward to their gifts each year.
Q. It’s been very busy and I know the AVA has added to that. What’s your secret for being grateful and showing gratitude when things aren’t going well or you feel overwhelmed?
This is easy! All I have to do is look at my team. Even though I’ve been working with my own VAs for years, this is different. We are truly and legally partners. I always knew I would never be able to do this alone, nor would I have wanted to. However, to have Kiri, Mimi, and Tammy as partners far surpasses what I dreamed of. They make me and the AVA better. If it was easy then everyone would do this. It’s a labor of love and I love my team.
Q. Will you share a time when you were joyfully overwhelmed when someone showed how grateful they were for you?
There have been many times. The common theme is when it was in writing. A simple email or Slack message, sometimes a card to let me know how I assisted them. Others have been about how they were inspired by my book or blog, started their own business, and are now living out their dreams. There is nothing that makes me more joyfully overwhelmed than to know I, in some small way, made a positive impact on someone’s life.
Q. Is there a favorite quote, poem, or saying that always reminds you to be grateful?
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield
“I didn’t start to stop.” – Unknown (at least to me)
These are my favorite quotes and in a roundabout way remind me to be grateful. The fact that I’m doing something so big that it could scare me is something to be grateful for. It means I have choices and options. Not everyone has them. I started something because I was grateful for my freedom, stopping would be the opposite of that. I can pivot and change direction at any time, but I will not stop. I will not quit. I will not give up.
Q. Looking back at 2019 I’m sure there are many things you’re grateful for, but does anything stand out as particularly unexpected?
I’m super grateful I’ll be meeting Tammy for the first time! We’ll not only celebrate her big 50th birthday but ring in the New Year together! Tammy and I have been virtual BFF’s through her FB group for years. I’ve not been to Canada before and never thought I would be going in the winter. However, knowing I’ll finally meet not only one of my team members, but one of my dearest friends warms my heart.
Q. Looking towards 2020 what are you already grateful for?
The AVA members! The Association of Virtual Assistants was created for them so knowing how many more will join and take advantage of all we are offering has me extremely grateful. Selfishly, my favorite part is when they share their successes! Many I get to know behind the scenes. I know of the struggle, the doubts, the fears, and when they hit their stride I just imagine them on stage and being in the front row clapping for them!
Q. The AVA and its members are very grateful for you! What gratitude would you like to give back?
When I advocate for VAs everywhere I am specifically thinking of AVA members. Each and every AVA member matters to me. I would like to make sure each and every member knows they don’t have to do business alone. I’m here to listen, support, assist, provide encouragement, resources, to cheer them on, and be their front row cheerleader.