In uncertain times it can be very easy to overthink what might happen to your career. It is true that some things are out of our control, but one thing that is certainly in our control is our attitude. Our ability to choose how we respond to the things that are out of our control.

It is often your attitude which determines how you think, what you do and what you can achieve in the future. Although changing attitudes is not easy, it can be done. Here’s a nine-step process that can lead to the development of a positive mental attitude, a will to win, and career success on the other side of adversity …

1. Take charge of your attitude.

Religious writer Charles Swindoll encapsulates it precisely:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company…

The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.”

2. Practice visualisation.

Visualisation is one of the most powerful techniques of self-image modification because your visual image can become your reality. Management expert Brian Tracy tells us that there are four elements of visualisation and an increase in any one of them will accelerate the rate at which we create the physical equivalent of that mental picture of our life. These four elements are:

  • Frequency. People who accomplish extraordinary things continually visualise their desired results.
  • Vividness. This is literally seeing things clearly.
  • Intensity. When you intensely desire something, it occurs much faster.
  • Duration. The longer you imagine a desired future event, the more likely it is to appear.

3. Make affirmations.

Affirmations are strong statements or commands from our conscious to our subconscious mind. They over-ride old information and reinforce new, positive habits of behaviour and thought. Affirmations need to be based on the 3Ps: they must be positive, present tense, and personal. For example, if you’re trying to improve your health and general well-being, positive self-talk such as this will help: ‘I’m feeling better now’, ‘I feel young and vital’, ‘I’m reaching my best weight’, and ‘I can really feel the difference my exercise program and change in eating habits are having.’

4. Affirm aloud.

Begin and end each day verbalising your affirmations. You’ll be amazed how much more confident you will feel and behave when you’re feeding yourself the right messages. So, in the days leading up to a job interview, for example, tell yourself, aloud, whenever you get the chance: ‘During my interview I will be calm, confident, and in control!’ Don’t forget: what you ‘see’ is what you get; what you ‘feel’ is what you are.

5. Act the part.

Walk, talk, and act exactly as if you are the person you want to be. St Thomas Aquinas referred to this philosophy as ‘as if’; others call it ‘fake it till you make it’. The first step in becoming more confident is to act ‘as if’ you already are.

6. Expose yourself to high-quality information only.

The more you read, listen, watch, and learn about your subject area, the more confident and capable you’ll feel. But we need to be discerning about the quality of information we expose ourselves to. Look at information as food: we should be careful to feed ourselves only the best food.

The famous T-Cell study of the 1980s is worth remembering (‘T-Cell’ being a measure of the blood’s healthfulness). The T-Cell of a group actually changed after exposure to varying amounts of positive and negative information. One outcome of the study was that regular exposure to negative information was a health hazard!

7. Associate with positive people.

Fly with the eagles instead of scratching with the chooks. Our parents taught us that ‘we are judged by the company we keep’. They were right. To meet new, positive people, you have to stop associating with the loser-brigade, those dull excuse-makers who end up dragging you down to their level of complacency and incompetence.

8. Imitate positive people.

The qualities we admire and envy in others usually reflect our own under-developed capacities. Imitation is vital to learning. Identify those around you with a positive mental attitude and watch what they do. How do they work, what do they say, how do they carry themselves? Select one small behavior at a time and emulate it.

9. Teach others.

When you attempt to articulate and explain a concept to others, you will understand it and internalise it better yourself. Seize every opportunity to share the notion of ‘positiveness’ as a way of helping yourself to become even more familiar with it.

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