Strive to be positive

THESE are changing and challenging times. Life is difficult and setbacks are common in the great game of business and in life.

Every person has a choice about the attitude he brings to his day and the action he takes.

Those who want to prosper must develop flexible optimism, resourcefulness and persistence in the face of adversity and constant change.

Unfortunately, far too many are falling victim to the depression of our age: learned helplessness.

They think: “Nothing I can do is going to make any difference in what happens to me, so why try?”

By controlling your attitudes and habits, you too can alter your life and influence people you live and work with.

Here are 15 practical tips to claim your own optimism advantage in bouncing back from any setback or disaster:

1 Appreciate the healing power of time

One of Abraham Lincoln’s favourite quotes was: “This too shall pass.”

Because we tend to think that our reactions to bad events will never fade, we also tend to feel especially good when we recover from trauma with unexpected speed.

Don’t underestimate your own powers of recuperation from emotional trauma.

You may not forget a bad experience but you can look back with a calmer perspective only time can provide.

2 Check fears against the facts

Optimism can be learnt. Recognise that people often have catastrophic thoughts - feelings that everything is wrong and that nothing is going to change.

Think of these thoughts as if they are being said by some external enemy whose mission in life is to make you miserable. Then dispute those thoughts.

Try using cold, impersonal facts to maintain a reality-based perspective. For example, if you struggle with the fear of flying, you note that the National Safety Council reports that you are 37 times more likely to die, mile for mile, in a vehicle crash than on a commercial airline.

3 Seize the day as a survivor

As long as you are alive, you always have options.

Survivors make the best of the options they have while victims whine about how few they have.

There is never nothing you can do; the only question is whether a given action will work and if committed action is worth the investment of the time required to achieve the desired results. Survivors keep making choices one day at a time.

4 Control what you can -position, perform and persist

Security is not a fact; it is a feeling that you can control what you do.

You don’t control all events that happen, but you do control your response to events.

You don’t control the cards you are dealt in life, but you can learn how to play even a poor hand well.

Appreciate the words of Reinhold Niebuhr: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Get busy changing what you can - starting with your own attitude.

5 Move from analysis paralysis into action

Cultivate a continual sense of adventure that searches for and takes advantage of every opportunity.

Failure to act doesn’t prevent failure, it just turns life into slow death.

As legendary baseball player Yogi Berra would say: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

6 Master the strategic skills you need to prepare for the future

The age of lifelong employment is over. You become an old dog when you stop doing new and improved tricks.

Invest 5 per cent of your time in education to stay a recyclable asset. If you hate your job, raise that to 10 per cent.

Search for what you enjoy and have the gifts to do. Bouncing back with optimism is easier when you have a job that gives you passion, fulfilment and energy.

7 Catch yourself being effective

You are probably tougher on yourself than on any other person. Instead of taking yourself for granted, love yourself the way you love others you care about.

Ask yourself daily, “What did I do today that made a difference?”

Use your calendar to write down one success every day.

8 See mistakes as valued lessons

Use self-criticism as course correction feedback on the road to success. Identify what was done wrong, but put your focus on the future: What are you going to do to rectify the problem? How will you handle it next time? - Source: ST/ANN

* Article by Terry Paulson, PhD, a professional motivational speaker.

* Tomorrow: The next seven tips on how to bounce back from setbacks.