Achieving Success with Positive Thinking

Do you ever find yourself worried about a job-related problem? Expressing negative, limiting beliefs about your job search or work situation? Feeling trapped by these beliefs, unable to take action and do your best work?

Psychologist William James (1842-1910) stated, "We become what we think about most of the time." Negative, self-limiting thoughts create negative, self-limiting actions and can prevent you from being successful in your job or your job search.

A job search is full of ups and downs. You will have bad days and you will have good days. However, it is important to not fall victim to the bad days. After all, you are in charge of your attitude. Research shows that the more positive your attitude, the more successful you will be. It's very easy, when things are not going the way you want, to get caught in the "terrible toos" — too much stress, too confused about your future, too overwhelmed by work you dislike, too sure you have no marketable skills, too certain that the job market is hopeless, too sure you have made the wrong choices for your career.

The Five O'Clock Club book Targeting a Great Career includes a reprint of a Daniel Goleman article, "Optimism Emerges as Best Predictor to Success in Life," written for the New York Times in 1991. Goleman quotes psychologist Charles R. Synder who states that "hope has proven a powerful predictor of outcome ... Having hope means believing you have both the will and the way to accomplish your goals." He goes on to explain, "It's not enough to just have the wish for something. You need the means, too. On the other hand, all the skills to solve a problem won't help if you don't have the willpower to do it."

Willpower can be best understood if we look at it through the lens of positive thinking. Positive thinking, according to its champion Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993), can be broken down into 10 traits:

1. Optimism: Do you look at life with a hopeful attitude?
2. Belief: Do you tell yourself that things will work out and that you can succeed in what you want to do?
3. Persistence: Do you keep moving toward your goal even when obstacles appear? Do you also know when to stop and refocus your goal when necessary? (See Courage)
4. Focus: Do you have a plan and can you break it down into small, specific, and achievable steps so that you can track your progress?
5. Confidence: Do you believe you are capable of achieving your goal?
6. Calmness: Do you remain calm when things are not going your way?
7. Courage: Do you have the courage to (take a risk and) change your plan, to be open to new possibilities and refocus your goal when your original goal is not working?
8. Enthusiasm: Do you keep telling yourself you can succeed?
9. Determination: Do you keep moving forward and regard setbacks as challenges?
10. Integrity: Do you approach each day with honesty and truthfulness?

I believe there is an 11th trait for positive thinking:
11. Humor: Do you smile at others, not take yourself so seriously, and look for humor and laughter in your everyday surroundings?

Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if you are suffering from lack of positive thinking:

? Do you say, "I wish my job was different," but never take steps to change it?
• Do you stay at your current job because you are afraid to search for a new job?
• Do you give up when your request for an informational interview goes unanswered?
• Do you think your competition is better than you?
• Do you find yourself thrown off-balance when you experience a setback?
• Do you get annoyed when forced to wait for a reply?
• Do you get upset over a situation you can't control?

If you answered yes more than once you may need to work on your positive thinking quotient. Some suggestions for defeating negative thinking are:

? Explore who you are. What are your skills and interests? What is your passion? Your purpose? Your personal style?
• Clarify your life goals.
• Have a written plan with small achievable steps you can follow to keep you focused.
• Surround yourself with positive people.
• Use positive words and phrases as often as you can to describe yourself, such as: "I know I can do it," "I'm terrific," "Wow to me," "Good job," I'm proud of myself," "I can keep it up," "I'm tremendous," "I'm outstanding," "Nothing can stop me," "I'm marvelous," "I can master that skill," "I've got it now," "I knew I could do it," and "That's the way for me."
• Regard a setback as an opportunity to learn and grow. Remember the words of Abraham Lincoln, who had many setbacks in his career: "The path was worn and slippery. My foot slipped from under me, knocking the other out of the way, but I recovered and said to myself, 'It's a slip not a fall.'"
• Learn the fundamentals of a successful job search by reading the Five O'Clock Club four-book Job Search Series.

A job search can be quick or it can be long and stressful. You may not enjoy job searching but if your attitude is positive you will be better able to cope with the process and bring confidence and energy to your search. When you get up in the morning, remind yourself how lucky you are. Instead of "Oh no, another day I have to look for a job," focus on your plan for the day and say, "Wow, another day of opportunity to move toward my goal." Create a schedule for your day. Break your daily plan into realistic, concrete activities that will enable you to record and evaluate your short-term successes. Some examples could be: plan to write three letters, plan to make five phone calls, plan to spend three hours in the library, arrange for three informational interviews for next week.

You have a right to happiness but you have to work to get to it. Repeat to yourself: "I am entitled to be happy in my work."

Research shows that successful people are positive thinkers and that a positive attitude can improve your health, your job productivity, your creative potential and your life.

The choice is yours. Why not choose to be positive?


Five O'Clock Club four-book Job Search Series.
• Targeting the Great Career
• Packaging Yourself: The Targeted Resume
• Shortcut Your Search: Best Ways to Get Interviews
• Mastering the Job Interview and Winning the Money Game

At all major bookstores or
5 for $51 online at

Renée Lee Rosenberg, MA, LMHC, speaker, trainer, career management coach, conducts a weekly NYC based Five O'Clock Club job search group as well as facilitating a weekly national Five O'Clock Club virtual phone group. In her private practice she specialties in helping individuals develop successful job search strategies. Renée has trained Japanese executives in Tokyo and New York and is an international speaker on leadership issues including, personal branding and using positive thinking to enhance job motivation and career management skills. Former Vice President of the Association of Career Professionals International, NY, she is on the executive board of the Career Development Specialists Network, is a senior certified Five O'Clock Club coach, a licensed mental health counselor, a member of the National Speakers Association, and recipient of several awards and citations in the field of career counseling. The author of "Achieving the Good Life After 50: Tools and Resources for Making It Happen" (May, 2007) she has helped hundreds plan for a "purposeful" retirement. •