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Harnessing optimism

Optimism is a powerful personal attribute and can provide a myriad of benefits - from an extended life with better performance at activities you take on, to more personal happiness.

In particular, optimism can impact hugely on a person’s career. Optimists tend to bounce back more easily within difficult situations; they are resilient. In addition, optimists generally have better control over their emotions and make better choices about everything – including career choices, relationships, personal plans, etc.

When you encounter stress at work, an optimistic view can help you to cope better. For example, if you are passed over for promotion, you will bounce back more easily and will keep working towards the next opportunity.

Optimism is also linked to a growth mind-set. Optimists are guided by a belief that they can change their circumstances. They are more likely to take action in order to improve their future prospects.

Optimists do not view themselves as having fixed sets of skills and traits that can’t change or adapt. If you are facing an especially tough project at work, an optimistic approach can keep you motivated and prompt you to try new solutions and to persist in finding a resolution.

Outlined below are some tips on how to be more optimistic

Focus on now

One of the hallmarks of pessimism is to over-worry about the future. Negativity can then spiral out of control. Central to optimism is to stay more focused on the present as numerous studies have found that people who practice mindfulness generally experience less stress.

Be grateful

Gratitude is closely associated with optimism. When you appreciate what you have, you think more positively about what will come to you. Even when you are facing a problem that seems insurmountable, gratitude and optimism can be expressed. One of my colleagues, when faced with a challenge, says, “If this is my worst problem, I’m very fortunate.”

Think long-term

Another way to be more optimistic is to extend your time horizon. When you are facing a challenge that feels difficult in the moment, extend your view and consider whether it will matter in a month or in a year.

Manage expectations

One reason for disappointment is that experience and expectations don’t always correspond. Keep your expectations realistic in order to be more satisfied with what happens to you. If you set the bar too high - for example, regarding your next raise - you may be disappointed.

Set goals that keep you motivated but be realistic to ensure you are delighted when opportunities come your way. This will keep you optimistic about the next opportunity, and the next.

Visit the Advice and Tips section of the website for more career management and job seeking advice.