About a year ago, my team and I at Skylum hit a turbulent period. We were doing great as a company, yet we came face to face with some unique and difficult challenges on account of entering a new B2B market, building and testing new products, and revamping our customer service process — all in addition to selling our services in more and more countries across the world. We ultimately had to restructure our team and rethink the way we were communicating with customers, marketing partners, and the media.
All told, this required a lot of work and a lot of grit, day in and day out. There were long nights and many moments in which it would have been easy to write certain projects off as failures. To give up, in other words.
Instead, we committed to thinking positively, which helped inspire us to continue working harder and more creatively for improvements and solutions. Now, the B2B side of our business is thriving, as are our new processes and systems. And I can see just how much more engaged and motivated my entire team is on a daily basis.
Here’s the truth: nurturing and maintaining a deliberately positive mindset is a crucial component of professional and personal success.
It amounts to a strategic commitment to finding and creating positive outcomes. And it’s in fact more crucial than most of us initially think. But unfortunately, staying positive isn’t always easy. Our brains are wired to be cynical and to avoid risks. And negativity — just like positivity — is self-reinforcing. The more we practice thinking negatively and finding the worst in each situation, the more regularly we’ll operate like that.
That said, thinking positively is not impossible. And there are certain habits and practices you can adopt and abide by to practice cautious positivity over time — both in your personal life and in your career. Here are a few that have worked best for me.
1) Always get a good night’s sleep.
You’ve likely heard this before, but it really is absolutely essential. It’s a matter of positioning yourself to start each day as prepared as possible for success and positivity. Thinking and operating positively starts with waking up positively. When you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you inevitably wake up frustrated, agitated, and tired.
2) Always start your morning out doing something that energizes you.
And, no, I don’t necessarily mean drinking coffee. Do something instead that recharges your mental batteries. Do something fun that’s unrelated to work and that gets your mind moving. For some, that might look like writing in a journal, going on a run, or meditating. For me, it looks like drawing, or even working on my massive Lego city complex, which by this point consists of thousands of different bricks.
But whatever you do, don’t check your emails right away. To truly set yourself up for success, you have to take some time for you — unless of course there’s something urgent that’s come up.
3) Take care of your physical health.
This, in turn, will help you take care of your mental health. Personally, the more time I spend either at the gym, or running, or otherwise focusing on my physical health, the better I feel mentally — and the better prepared I am for whatever challenges present themselves during the workday.
4) Don’t argue with people.
Arguing in general is unproductive. Typically, it serves only to sour your own mood and distract you from focusing on what you otherwise should be focused on: finding positive solutions. So make it a rule to never enter into petty arguments with people — ever. This is especially true in the afternoon when your brain naturally becomes more negative. There’s no better way to drain your brain of positivity than to waste essential energy arguing.
5) Spend your time with positive people.
On the flip side, there may be no better way to increase your positivity — to bolster your capacity for positive thinking — than by surrounding yourself with positive people. People who view life and the challenges inherent to it as an opportunity, not a burden. The old adage rings true: you really are the product of the people you spend the most time with. So it pays, then, to spend time with positive people.
The benefits of all this are numerous and impactful.
Personally, I’ve seen positivity avail new opportunities and encourage me to take risks I might not otherwise would have. It helped me enter Skylum into new markets and try new, ultimately impactful tools, for example. Now, we’ll all face tough times — times when we think about quitting, or when everything seems to be working against you. But in those moments, maintaining a commitment to positivity is critical, as it encourages us to seek out new opportunities, lessons, and risks — which, at the end of the day, everyone needs to do in order to better their life and continue developing as a person.
The hard times, in this sense, act in service of a greater goal and purpose.