Is It Time For An Attitude Check?

I recently had a long conversation with a childhood friend whom I haven’t seen for almost five years. She’s had a rough go of life, so it was fantastic to hear how well she was doing – and how much of a positive shift her life had taken.

She told me she’d been meditating daily, and that she’d come to realize that everyone gets to choose his or her own perspective. You can surround yourself with negativity and choose to have a negative outlook on everything that happens to you – or you can choose to take a positive view. I could hear in her voice just how happy she is now – how whole she is.

And it got me thinking about the way I approach my own life and work. I often let myself get derailed by little details, and if I don’t keep my mood in check, I can lose hours of productive work because I’m frustrated over something I can’t control. But rather than blaming my bad mood or anxiety on a client or a coworker, I can choose to take responsibility.

It’s a harder choice (and it requires me to be more aware of myself than I often am) but it’s the choice that makes me feel more powerful. If I don’t assert my own intentions, then I’m letting my subconscious choose – and it almost always chooses to play the victim.

Choosing to have a better attitude affects the quality of my work, the level of stress I experience, and how I present myself. And I’m not alone in that.

Do you need to adjust your attitude?

Probably you didn’t start your job with a bad attitude. These things tend to slowly accumulate – a streak of overworked weeks here, a disagreement with your boss there, and after a while things can start to look bleak.

A bad attitude can poison your work quality and affect your relationships with your coworkers. When you’re moody and dour, you can start to alienate coworkers who won’t want to be dragged down by your doom and gloom.

Are you:

  • Always looking for the negative? You’re setting yourself up for pessimism if the first thought you have each time you walk through the office door is “What will go wrong today?” Try to nip those tendencies in the bud.
  • Overly defensive? You see even the most benign comments as personal attacks, and you’re quick to come to your own defense when something goes wrong. Take a step back and make sure you’re not jumping to the wrong conclusion.
  • Complaining rather than coming up with solutions? Venting can help get problems off your chest – and a good venting session can be cathartic on its own. But complaining won’t actually solve anything. If you’re constantly coming to your boss with complaints rather than solutions, she’ll start to wonder about your attitude.
  • Refusing to consider new options? Do you say no to everything that comes your way? You need to stay open to new options, even if they’re unfamiliar, or don’t seem like they’ll work at first. Give something a try, and let it surprise you.

How to fix your bad attitude

Own your attitude. Your boss isn’t making you feel bad, and neither are your coworkers. Other people may choose to act a certain way, but only you can choose how you react. You have to accept that your attitude is a choice that you’re making.

Practice consciously deciding how you’ll greet the day. If you find a litany of angry, defensive, and negative thoughts going through your head, try to break the cycle and think about something – anything – else. Try to pick something that makes you happy, but even if it’s just planning your grocery shopping list, breaking your mind away from the negative can help you regain some perspective.

Reconnect with your vision. Why did you first love this job? What are your plans for the future? Get past the hump of feeling annoyed at the here and now, and try to get excited once more about the big picture of your career and mission.

Recharge your batteries. It could be that it’s just time to take a break. Use up some of those vacation days if you have them, or just take some time to hang out with friends or engage in your hobbies. If you’re having trouble feeling passionate about your job, try to find something else to ignite your excitement.

Meditate. I’m the worst at sitting still and blanking my mind, but I do still find value in reflection. For me, that takes the form of journaling, or taking a walk and thinking about my day.

Reflect on the good things in your life, on the successes you had today. If things went wrong, think of positive ways that you can handle the situation next time.

If you make a conscious effort to create a better outlook for yourself, I guarantee you’ll start to notice – and the people around you will, too.

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Juana Williams

Great blog. Thank you. You mention reconnecting with your vision and reflecting on why you first loved this job. In government, we don’t always have a choice in where we are reassigned if the agency requires assistance in a certain position, but we can make the best of it and look for positive aspects of a job we are mandated to perform. I love the idea of meditating and finding a few minutes to distract ourselves with something positive in our life (family, grocery list for a gathering, etc.). I always have a few live plants (not cut flowers) in my office, no matter where they send me. Plants make me smile. ­čÖé