Do you want to advance your career? Many experts agree that those who cultivate a positive attitude greatly enhance their chances of professional advancement.
First of all, having a positive attitude makes you a pleasurable person to work with. Coworkers, supervisors, and clients are likely to respond more favorably to you, which in turn increase your chances of being considered for important projects and even promotions.
But more importantly, being positive can help you eliminate limiting beliefs that hold you back. As Curt Rosengren writes in his U.S. News article “How Positive Thinking Can Help Your Career,” your career potential contracts when governed by negative assumptions and expands when led by positive assumptions. Simply put, if you constantly think you can’t do something, you’re less likely to take steps that can help you succeed. If, on the other hand, you have a can-do attitude and take on new challenges, your chances of success are greater simply because you’re proactive and create opportunities for yourself.
Of course, it’s advisable to remain realistic. Some goals simply aren’t immediately attainable. But instead of falling prey to the dead-end statement, “I can’t,” a positive thinker looks for solutions to challenges, resulting in affirmative beliefs such as, “I can, so long as I complete these steps first.”
How to become more positive
Even if you habitually find yourself thinking negative, limiting thoughts, you can train yourself to become a more positive thinker. According to Hara Estroff Marano in the Psychology Today article “Depression Doing the Thinking,” pessimistic thinking is a habit—but it’s one that can be broken. The following pointers will help you combat a negative attitude and replace it with a positive one:
- Monitor your thoughts. Keep track of your thoughts throughout the day. If you find yourself having many negative thoughts, it can help to write them down in a journal. Then set aside some quiet time to analyze these thoughts. Ask yourself if they’re correct or if there’s another way of looking at the situation. For example, if you’re thinking, “I’ll never be good enough to land that promotion,” assessing what you’d need to do to get the job can make the situation more realistic and approachable. Then you can turn the negative thought into a positive one such as, “Once I’ve gained another year of work experience, I’ll be equipped to land the promotion.”
- Cultivate an affirmative posture. How we carry ourselves has a direct impact on how we feel. If you’re slumped over with a worried look on your face, you’re not going to feel optimistic. Instead, sit or stand up tall with your shoulders back, and smile as much as possible. This kind of affirmative body language sends positive cues to your brain and helps you feel capable and empowered.
- Use affirmative language. In the Ferris State University article Developing a Positive Mindset: Changing Your Attitude to Change Your Life, the author emphasizes the importance of using affirmative language. Statements such as, “I’ll find a good solution,” or, “I can overcome this challenge,” guide your thoughts into positive pathways and communicate to others that you’re capable of achieving your goals.
- Reduce your stress levels. According to Allison Boyer in her blog post “A Positive Attitude as Work: 10 Tips for Success,” both personal and professional stress can affect our attitude. Identify situations and experiences that increase your stress levels and find ways to either make them less stressful or reduce their impact on you. For example, if you’re having communication issues with a coworker, approach him or her with the request to discuss the problem. If you can’t change a stressful situation, place it in perspective. For example, if you’re under a lot of pressure at work, remind yourself that you enjoy a great personal life in the evenings and on weekends.
- Remind yourself of your achievements. When you’re feeling negative and limited, it can be hard to maintain an objective overview of your professional persona. Make a list of your achievements and successes in the workplace, as well as in your personal life. Keep the list on hand and review it regularly to remind yourself of all of the challenges you’ve overcome. This will help you feel more empowered and encourage you to think more positively about your abilities.
Learning how to be positive can take some time, but it’s well worth the effort to train yourself to think expansively and affirmatively. So invest some time in allowing your brain to think positively, and watch how that impacts your career.