Generosity. An Unexpected 2017 Strategy.

A new year is upon us. And with that comes not only a time for reflection, but also a time for planning and preparation. As you take time to conduct internal audits and develop strategic plans for next year’s business operations, challenge your company to implement giving and gratitude as two foundational (and beneficial) patterns of behavior.

Not quite sold on this growth strategy? I can’t say I blame you. It seems a little counterintuitive that a small business might give away its limited resources as an approach for establishing a more successful and profitable company. For all you skeptics who need hard evidence before making a business decision, here’s three research-backed reasons that weaving philanthropy into your 2017 strategic plan makes for an even smarter operation.

Giving improves performance.

Giving and leading with thankfulness enables you to operate with greater creativity, resourcefulness and determination. This principle is best explained in Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year program designed to hone peak performance for Olympians, professional athletes and businesses. Herman’s research teaches two fundamental mindsets—the “wow brain” and the “oww brain.”

The “oww brain” focuses on what’s gone wrong, how much there is left to do and what difficulties lie ahead. On the other hand, the “wow brain” emphasizes how far you’ve come, how specific challenges taught incredible learning lessons, what can be given to serve others and the continual reminder that change IS possible.

And if you haven’t already guessed which mindset Herman and his Harvard-backed research found to be most effective for achieving goals, it was the gratitude mindset—“wow brain.”

Giving makes you more resourceful.

Positive emotions like thankfulness and gratitude broaden your thought-action repertoire. As explained by Michael Hyatt, “[They] expand the range of cognitions and behaviors that come to mind, in turn building an individual’s physical, intellectual and social resources.”

Focusing on scarcity and negative emotions lends itself to tight-fisted habits—no surprise there. Getting out of Scrooge mode, however, launches the “broaden-and-build theory” as cited in empirical evidence from positive psychology studies. So leave the “Bah, humbug!” to ole Ebenezer. The scowl wasn’t your best look anyway.

Giving leads to resilience.

I’m sure you’ve experienced or witnessed this in your personal life. Individuals who opt to find positive meaning in the mess of life’s hardships often bounce back feeling better and performing better. Gratitude is a practice of contrasts. Experiencing hard times enables us to discover thankfulness.

As we all know, work will not always be easy, and business goals will not always be reached. But committing to philanthropy, giving and gratitude will instill a sense of resilience in your team—encouraging them to return to work with positive attitudes amidst the inevitable obstacles you’ll face together in 2017.

So find a way to build the habit of giving back and giving thanks into your business. During a time of year when it feels like everyone is reaching in your wallet, be reminded that giving doesn’t have to look like dollar signs. It could simply mean a culture and attitude shift—embracing a mindset of gratitude when interacting with coworkers or implementing an annual day of service. Find a giving strategy that works for your business, and benefit from improved performance, resourcefulness and resilience.