Attitude. Is. Everything.
Repeat that to yourself at least two more times. If you can't find a positive attitude within yourself, you will have a very difficult, or maybe impossible time succeeding. In anything. Nor will you experience much enjoyment along the way. So, don't underestimate it's importance. There are many elements which are interwoven that build a positive attitude and so this section has potential to be quite long. I'll try to be as succinct as possible so you can mash this into your brain and move on to more of the good stuff.
So how does one form a great, positive attitude? Easy! Just be positive! Everybody knows at least one Debbie Downer. If you really enjoy spending time with Debbie Downer, there's a good chance YOU are a Debbie Downer too! Ok, even if you don't, there's a lot of negativity in the world that we have no control over. But we DO have control over what enters our brain and what comes out of it. So the first step is to severely limit the number of negative things we say aloud. Our moms taught us at a very young age "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it!" Relearn this all over again, and practice, practice, practice. Soon, you will find that you have even reduced the number of negative things you THINK. And don't forget about your facial expressions! Those are equally as important.
I believe an important step to positive thinking is simply in how you begin your day. How and when do you wake up each morning? What is the first thing you do when you open your eyes? Did you get enough sleep? What was the first thing you did as you stumbled out of bed? Most of us have complete control over all these things, and even small adjustments can affect the formulation of your mood as the morning progresses. Tailor your wake-up routine so that it creates a happy and peaceful mindset. Steer away from anything that contains negative energy, such as the news, or email. After you've woken up, take a few minutes and do stretches, yoga, or even meditate.
From here, realize that how you feel and look also plays a significant role in your mood for the day and overall morale. Take a shower, and even though many of us freelancers work from home all day, dress nicely! Take pride in your appearance! Not only will your significant other, spouse, children, and friends appreciate it, you will be surprised at how it can affect not only your attitude, but also your productivity!
Next, fuel yourself properly with a nutritious breakfast. Proper nutrition is a bit outside the scope of this reading, but if you don't already know to eat healthy, do yourself a massive favor and LEARN. Then do it. It's not hard, and if you have an internet connection you have all you need. Once your belly is happy, it's time to jump right into work, right!? Well, maybe it depends on your schedule for the day, but just before sitting down at my desk, I like to "transition" into work mode. I do this by engaging in some kind of short, simple, non-work task. Some days I practice the drums for 15-20 minutes, or some days read a book, or maybe even go for a short walk. It's just enough time to allow my internal gears to switch and start spinning, and when I sit down in front of my PC, I'm ready to roll.
You can be a complete slob and never know what's going on and still be a happy and positive person with a good attitude. But odds are, if this is you, your positive attitude has probably always been a big part of your personality, and you probably wake up with a smile. This is not most people though. The bulk of us are in a constant battle with the many stresses in our lives, trying to do too many things, and overwhelmed with decisions to make. Keeping your life a bit more organized will undoubtedly relieve you of some unnecessary stress and help maintain your positive mindset.
First you want to organize your time. Not only will this help reduce stress, it will also make you more productive! The key component here is a simple list. I prefer to make my list at the end of the day, so that the items on the list have some time to sink in, and in the morning you're ready to go. You already know what you have to do. After you write it out, take an extra minute and prioritize it to make sure you address the most important items first. You also have a vast array of web-based tools and calendars you can use for scheduling and reminders.
Second, keep your physical environment clean and organized- your workspace AND your living spaces. We've all felt how rewarding it is once you've done a really good job cleaning something. And likewise, we've all felt overwhelmed and disgusted when looking at an awful mess and then said "I'll clean it later". It's really a simple choice as to which side you'd like to be on. A clean environment is less clutter in your mind! As a simple example, I used to go nuts with Post-It notes. I'd have no less than a dozen stuck on my desk between myself and my keyboard. And each one constantly whispering at me "Hey John, don't forget about me. Hey John, you have to... Hey John, here's 5 things to do after work today." Not cool!! Since then I have started using Google Keep. There's no mess on my desk. I'm not being constantly distracted by the paper notes. And I have access to my notes anywhere I go if I need it.
As you get organized for the day, take some extra time and get organized for the year! Get organized for the next 5 years! Think about some of the big things you'd like to accomplish and write them down. Set goals for work and your personal life too. And don't be shy... go big! The key to achieving your goals is break them up into smaller chunks that are manageable over a given time. Sometimes we set goals that seem extremely ambitious. Hop on YouTube and dig up some videos where Tim Ferriss talks about "fear setting". It's basically an exercise where you consider all the different "what if" scenarios and you consider solutions to them all. Additionally, he talks about the COST of NOT achieving a particular goal. Setting goals is an extremely powerful tool in guiding our lives, and having a path to follow gives you a sense of purpose.
We mentioned Debbie Downer at the beginning of this section. Have you ever been around people who are nearly bursting with positive energy? Sometimes, that can be a turn-off as well, and so I'm not suggesting you be that person. Optimism is simply believing that success might be possible. And it opens your mind to explore all the potential solutions to a problem, or paths to a goal. Optimism is also encouragement for others. The opposite of optimism is doubt. If you were discussing a goal with a friend, a goal which you particularly desired, you'd much rather have your friend tell you it's possible, rather than "nah, it'll never happen".
Another point to discuss with optimism is how you address problems. Nearly every problem comes with an opportunity. Problems don't always have to be dead ends. In fact, it's best to not refer to them as "problems" at all, but rather "challenges." If you encountered a task in a project that you knew you couldn't complete, you have an opportunity to create a solution. Today we are all very fortunate to be quickly and easily connected to a world of other individuals who have faced similar challenges. Find these people and learn from them. Few things are as uplifting and motivating as overcoming a formidable challenge. Seek and create opportunities when adversary comes your way. Let optimism be your guide.
Remember- Attitude. Is. Everything.