” Two men looked out from prison through the bars – one saw mud, the other saw stars” – Unknown
Happy New Year!
What does 2011 hold in store for you personally and professionally? A brand new year, a fresh start perhaps? A new job? Renewed enthusiasm for work? Building on 2010 for even greater success?
No matter what you hope for in 2011, to make it ‘the year of success’, you must have the right attitude. A positive attitude doesn’t guarantee success, but a negative attitude will be a big barrier to achieving (have you ever noticed how a negative thought or comment can lead to another and build on itself?)
The great thing is that you have the ultimate control over your own attitude. So for all of us who are high achieving control freaks, this is a good thing! We are in control of our attitude. Granted, it’s not always easy when we come back to work after holidays to find 5,000 urgent emails, but we do still own our attitude towards those emails!
There are three things to try at the start of this year to help with choosing a positive attitude:
- Be clear on what you want to achieve – having goals or visions for success will help you stay focused on the positive outcomes you are looking for
- Know what motivates you – understanding what you love about your work and life will help you seek out those positive opportunities
- Have a strategy for when the negative attitude seems like the easiest option – using simple techniques can help reduce negative emotions and thoughts
This final point is critical. Right now the year might seem like a clean sheet of paper that you will fill with new year’s resolutions and positive experiences. If we are honest, we all know that there will be times this year when we feel a little negative – a structure change at work, a busy day, unresolved issues, conflict with colleagues – all examples of when we may give way to negative emotions and thus impact our mindset for success.
There are thousands of books and experts to consult about coping with frustrations and situations where negativity can take hold. A simple Google search will give you plentyof options for resources. In the interim, here are some steps that might help on the precipice of negativity.
- Breathe! When we feel stressed, frustrated or disheartened, we have an immediate and sometimes powerful emotional reflex, which triggers many physiological responses – heart rate, sweating, headaches. The emotion can also lead us to act in a ‘flight or fight’ mode without always thinking through the consequences. Or, it can lead to a spiral of negative thoughts that lead us to build an issue into a catastrophe. So, in the heat of the moment or even during a long period of stress, we can help ourselves immensely if we just BREATHE. With that breath, we have the opportunity to calm the mind and the body before we deal with the issue.
- Smile! This is not always easy to do (and on rare occasions may be inappropriate) yet it can help us refocus on our positive attitude. A smile is an action that will release stress. Even if it is a determined, gritty smile to say – “I can deal with this and be positive”. Exercise those facial muscles and get the endorphins flowing!
- Choose! Tell yourself that you choose to be positive about the situation, no matter how hard that is. This might mean that you decide on positive action – “What are our options to solve this problem?” Or that you make an effort to think more constructively – “I can overcome obstacles and achieve my goals!” Or you may choose to try to empathise with a ‘difficult’ colleague – “They are only trying to do their job, just like me.” Or you might even remove yourself from a negative discussion “It’s hard, but I want to take a positive approach, so I don’t want to spend the day talking about all the bad aspects to this.”
Whatever your technique for ensuring a positive attitude, if it truly works then it will put you on the path of success. So here’s to 2011 – the year of success!
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