As you wrap up your work for today and start thinking about what priorities need to be established for next week, what are you focused on? It’s likely that you are thinking about the frustrations of the past few days and the problems that are yet to be solved. Usually in our list of important things to do, there are items that just didn’t get done and, with a defeated spirit, we move them to next week’s list.
Right about now you’re thinking, “Umm, Todd. Thanks for the morale booster.” But wait…don’t stop reading yet.
If what I described in the first paragraph is something that you are going through now or that you know you will go through before you wrap up for the day, you still have time to turn it around. As you reflect on your week, start with the things that you accomplished or that at least started turning in the right direction. These victories, large or small, often are forgotten almost immediately because they no longer represent burning issues. In fact we sometimes argue that we have no time to “sit on our laurels” and celebrate success because we have too many other fires to put out.
I agree. There should be no laurel-resting. In fact, I’m suggesting that by listing a few of the things that worked well this week at the top of your to do list, you may find yourself on Monday not only in a better mood but with more energy and focus on what needs to be accomplished. For example, researchers from the University of Western Ontario have found that having even a little boost of satisfaction and positivity has an effect on the brain that increases our ability to think clearly and creatively (Psychological Science, December 2010).
Even if you don’t think there is anything to celebrate from the week, you should at least give it a shot. As you’re making your list for next week, start at the top with a short section called “Wins from Last Week.” (Note…that is not WHINES from last week). Then list at least 3 or 4 items that were accomplished. They don’t have to be huge (although those are nice), but they need to be unqualified. Saying, “I held an information meeting with my employees but some of them weren’t interested” is not a positive. If you’ve wanted to get around to having that meeting, “I held an information meeting with my employees” is all you need to say.
Ask for help from a friend or colleague if you need some assistance. Most of us are not good at identifying what went well but we’re experts at identifying what went wrong. I bet you can come up with at least a few bright spots from the past few days. Then, as you go into next week, keep a list of things that happen that you want to make sure to include on the positive list for the next week.
By the way, if you have a hard time finding the positives, listen to the original “Accentuate the Positive” written and sung by Johnny Mercer. I promise it will help!