Five Ways to Remain Optimistic

Barbara Weltman Do you want your business to succeed? Research has shown that while pessimists may be right more often, optimists can accomplish more and that often translates into success. Met Life once compared the sales results of optimists versus pessimists – optimists had higher sales by 21% in the first year and 57% in the second year. But with consumer confidence down and world economic news grim, it’s hard to remain confident about the future. What should you do? Keeping a positive attitude can pay off for your business.

1. Check you mental attitude

It’s all in your head – how you look at the glass and view the world. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t you’re right.” So, whether it comes naturally or not, adopt a positive outlook. Optimism can be a learned skill.

You don’t have to become a Pollyanna, ignoring the realities of a situation. It’s great to retain a measure of skepticism to balance you optimism. But remain enthusiastic.

Keep in mind that your worldview can be contagious, affecting your staff and others. Studies of sports teams show that a team’s performance can be predicted by the attitude of its players.

2. Forget your mistakes

Learn from them and then move on. Put the past behind you – don’t “woulda, coulda, shoulda” yourself to death. Focus on achievements instead of failures.

Don’t give up – a negative reaction to failures. Giving up is a habit that you can break.

3. Stop criticizing others

Criticizing others is usually a negative action – and acting in a negative way can bring you down. To stay focused on your business, stay focused on yourself and not on others (except to the extent you need to guide your staff).

4. Keep an open mind

It can be helpful to listen to divergent viewpoints as a way of learning about pitfalls, risks and other potential problems you may face, but you don’t have to follow negative advice. As a small business owner, many people will tell you you’re going to fail. This doesn’t mean you must listen to their doom-and-gloom prediction.

Be realistic about the problem and dangers you face. Then work to address these concerns.

Analyze your issues as if you were an outside consultant rather than the business owner. This will allow you to be critical without getting emotionally involved.

5. Act optimistic to be optimistic

Operate on the premise that things will work out and you’ve taken the first step to ensure that they will. Having a positive attitude won’t guarantee positive results, but it helps to move you along. You still need to take appropriate steps to back up your aspirations.

Actions can help you feel more optimistic. Use your business plan to guide you – especially when the going gets tough. Focus on the rewards you hope to achieve, rather than on the risks you face.

To help you gain a more optimistic outlook, read Learned Optimism by Dr. Martin Seligman (Free Press).

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