Is your attitude holding you back from success? I’ve always been a big believer in positive thinking. It has helped me accomplish much in my life as an entrepreneur. When advising others, positive thinking is my first suggestion on the path to success. All this made me wonder if there was any actual scientific links between positive thinking and success in business. Positive psychology is, in fact, a whole discipline centered entirely around the study of positivity and its effect on well-being, productivity, and success. According to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, if you start a positive habit and see that it has a positive effect upon your business or health outcomes, your brain is more willing to utilize resources to continue that behavior and scan for new ones. The resulting effect is a cascade of success as greater meaning and well-being fuel more successes than garnered by defensive pessimism or cynicism.
Is your bad attitude losing you money? An upward spiral certainly sounds better than a downward spiral, but unfortunately, the business world is full of challenges, stresses, and reasons to make you want to hide under your covers in the morning. While there are always the bright days when everything in your professional life goes according to plan, somehow we always manage to remember the rainy days where everything goes wrong. You would generally be more upset about losing a business deal rather than winning a deal of the same value, we tend to dwell on our failures more than our successes. Debbie downers are less resilient, and resilience is a necessary emotion in professional life, especially when it comes to entrepreneurs starting up businesses with a high probability of failure. Positive thinking can mean the difference between an entrepreneur who picks himself or herself up and starts over again, and someone who stays down for the count. It’s no secret the most productive people also tend to be the most successful, but if you’re caught in a negativity loop, your productivity is likely to falter. Negative thoughts and self-doubt can make you question every decision and second guess yourself, and while you’re second guessing, it’s likely that not a lot of work is getting accomplished. Which probably explains why the positive brain is 31 percent more productive than the negative brain.
We have already discovered negative occurrences tend to stick in the mind longer and stronger than positive outcomes. If you received 20 compliments on your business plan and one criticism, odds are you will focus on the one and ignore the many. So for every negative emotion, you need three positive emotions to keep your mood sunny. So how do you start tipping the balance in favor of positivity in order to improve your career prospects, your entrepreneurial endeavors, and your financial future? One of the keys is to set your mind on success. Picturing a successful future might seem like Positive Thinking 101, yet it can be immensely helpful when it comes to meeting your goals. After all, the typical career path is littered with pitfalls, and the entrepreneurial path can sometimes become a 90-degree free fall to failure. In order to succeed, sometimes you need to have a little hubris — and plenty of self-confidence. When mentoring others, there are always two steps I ask my mentees to take to improve their outlook. The first step is to write down 10 affirmations you want to achieve on a piece of paper. These affirmations can range from large-scale achievements to just small victories — “I want to be a millionaire” to “I want my presentation to go well.” Then every morning read these goals aloud to yourself. By focusing on your dreams, you can remind yourself why you work so hard. The other step I ask people to take is to write out their perfect day if money and time were not obstacles. Then, like your 10 goals, read your perfect day out loud every morning. By visualizing success and clearly defining your goals, you start your day by focusing on the positive instead of the negative. When your career, your business, or life gets you down, you can return to these visualization exercises to imagine a brighter future.
Another key is to surround yourself with positivity. Stresses are all around us, especially if you’re starting up a new business. The life of an entrepreneur can be both exciting and exhausting. And too much stress can tip your positivity ratio into the danger zone. Studies have proven that negative moods can be most easily and quickly altered by imagining positive or calming scenarios. So the next time you’re under the gun and think you don’t have time for a funny video of a panda sneezing, think again. Surrounding yourself with positivity is a good way to calm down in stressful situations. Make your work area somewhere you enjoy being and fill it with happy mementos of friends, family, and hobbies you enjoy.
Positivity doesn’t just make your life better, happier, and more fulfilling. It can also lead to professional success, which means you’ll be smiling right to the bank.