So, You Had a Bad Day (Week, Month, Quarter):

When your usual positive attitude takes a holiday and leaves you alone with your grumpier more cynical self, it’s time for action. And while the idea of turning in your resignation after telling off the higher-ups is a nice fantasy, it’s placing the blame squarely where it doesn’t belong. No one above or around you is in charge of your attitude except the person staring back at you in the mirror.

Of course, we all need a little boost now and then, which is why I love this last act of the workday to resuscitate your positive attitude.

I don’t care how miserable you think your day was or how many times you were metaphorically knocked down. You need to take five to ten minutes and do the following:

A Simple Hack to Resuscitate Your Positive Attitude:

Write down three things that worked.

Dig deep if you have to.

Look at the work of your team members or colleagues. Identify something someone or some team did that was good. Push your brain to find at least three items that were positive.

For each thing that worked, describe what made it work. Go into some detail and try to get to the root causes of success for each item.

If you had a great one-on-one with a team member, try and discern what made this one particularly noteworthy. Was it the individual’s enthusiasm? Was it some significant progress on an item you two had discussed in a prior meeting?

If one of your work teams solved a problem without your involvement and they came up with what might be a better solution than you did, jot it down and search for the reason. Was it because you trained them in how to frame problems searching for the best solution? Or, was it because they have gelled as a team and your hard work coaching them is paying off?

Did you hear from a happy customer who just wanted to compliment the support they received from one of your team members? If so, what is that made the support so noteworthy? And how did that support individual get to that point where delivering excellent help to customers was part of the job?

Whatever it was, write it down.

Smile while you are writing.

And then with one possible exception, bring your day to a close.

Don’t revisit tomorrow’s to-do priorities. That’s a job for tomorrow.

Don’t replay your worst hits of the day.

Don’t do anything but the above, and possibly this one other item.

Frosting on the Hack—One Extra Step

For each of the three things that worked where someone else did something, craft a note of thanks and positive feedback to the individual(s).

Ideally, do this with a hand-written card.

One senior manager keeps a stack of these at her desk and sends them off nightly. I love this approach!

Do it via e-mail if you have to.

Do it via Morse code if you have to. Just do it. (Sorry Nike.)

And make sure to reinforce it personally at your next occasion.

Get the note out now.

Encouragement and Discipline:

Even if you think this is silly, try it for ten days and then re-evaluate.

Trust me on this one.

I like your odds for gaining an improved attitude, and you’ll be amazed at how this approach positively impacts those around you.

When it works, make it part of your forever routine. And don’t forget to pay the idea forward.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

There’s no secret of my intent here with this little hack. I’m borrowing a page from the idea of positive psychology and pushing you into a mental zone where your brain is singularly focused on the good going on around you.

There’s something beyond cathartic that happens when we spend just a few minutes focused solely on thinking about successes and victories, no matter how small. You’ll find yourself heading home in a better frame of mind. And you’re welcome for the better night’s sleep.

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