Coupled with this, we are constantly confronted with the stark reality of a global financial crisis and recession, the worst in more than 80 years.
In some cases, the theme of this gloomy news appears to be that capitalism is unfixable, or in other words, dead. No matter where you turn, you can't avoid the dismal news; it's in our newspapers, on every TV channel and in every magazine. This is enough to make anyone depressed.
And with a focus on global gloom, people tend to forget the value of Manitoba. Up to this point, employees may have previously lamented that the province is considered a rather "staid" economy, thus keeping salaries at mid range. Many have flocked to boomtown Calgary or to the now fast-growing Saskatchewan, looking for that ever-elusive quick wealth.
But let's do a reality check here.
Manitoba has always had a diverse economy; we have been able to ride out other recessions, for the most part, and keep jobs in our province. In fact, the most recent job-creation statistics reportedly show that Manitoba's labour force grew last month in stark contrast to the national trend. According to news releases, Manitoba created 2,400 jobs and saw a decrease in the provincial unemployment rate.
These statistics are not only a reason to celebrate, but also point out that all of us need to acquire and maintain an optimistic viewpoint. Employers and employees alike need to see opportunity in these challenging times and to focus on the positive. And moreover, everyone needs to develop and maintain a self-confident attitude that will continue to positively affect the future.
How can you do this? What steps can you take to gain and retain a positive, optimistic attitude? What are the signals or red flags that suggest you are slipping into the negative and what can you do about it?
First, whenever you are challenged with a problem, stop yourself and think. In fact, take the time to write down the elements of the challenge. What are the different parts of the problem? Is there anything that is more critical and must be dealt with immediately? What is the impact on you and/or your organization? Determine if you have ever encountered a situation like this before. Recall what you did to overcome the problem. Review what worked, what didn't, what you learned from it and what you can now apply to the new situation.
When you scope out the problem, you may find you have not identified the real problem at all. Instead, you'll find yourself emotionally upset by an irrelevant aspect of an issue. Take your analysis and focus on solutions. Taking a measured, strategic approach to problem-solving in and of itself helps to create a positive attitude.
Secondly, you need to practise personal self-reflection. It's amazing to recognize the number of people who have never done this and/or avoid it. Instead, they just go about their business without thinking; after all, things are as they have always been and should be.
Then, when the status quo is rocked by challenge and change, these people are so jolted from their routine they can't cope. They are thrust into a world of patterned, negative and twisted thinking where their only view is that of doom and gloom.
Learn to listen to yourself. Check out whether you are viewing the world in rigid "either/or" categories. Are you telling yourself that if you aren't perfect, you must be a failure? Or, are you viewing a single experience of adversity as a never-ending pattern of negativity? And even more important, how many times are you putting all the blame on yourself? This is called a "psychological kick-me" -- you are doing it to yourself. Your own thoughts and comments are serving to put you down, to crush your self-esteem and dampen what is left of your positive attitude.
Believe it or not, you do have a choice in how you think and how you view things. In other words, you can indeed avoid a focus on pessimistic gloom and doom and instead substitute your thoughts with positive thinking.
This is not to say that you have to ignore the reality of a current or pending job loss or a major change at work and/or in your life or family status. But there are always opportunities, hidden gems, available in the midst of chaos. The following tips will assist in developing and maintaining a strong positive, sense of self-esteem.
* You are not your job title. You are a bundle of skills that are transferable and can be applied in any industry sector. Keep these skills honed, excel in several areas, make a name for yourself and this will secure your career success. When you are doing what you are really good at and love to do, your passion will reinforce your positive attitude and make you an attractive potential job candidate.
* Look beyond your job and look ahead. Expand your focus beyond your current job. Stay in touch with what is happening in your own and related industries, predict when change will occur in your organization. Look for opportunities for professional growth. When new change does happens in your organization, be the one who is ready.
* Develop and retain contact with a network. It's amazing how many people forget the importance of developing ongoing, long-term personal relationships outside of work. Instead, once they get a job, they disappear from the social scene only to reappear when they need help. This makes your colleagues and friends feel used and abused and reluctant to step forward. Never neglect your network.
* Be the best you can be at work. Pessimism interferes with your productivity. It shows in your body language and your voice and it interferes with problem solving, collegial and boss relationships. People will stop associating with you. You'll be isolated while at the same time you are craving friendship and support.
* Toss out the victim mentality. Some people always think they are "done to," in other words, a victim. While your organization may be experiencing challenges, these challenges are beyond your control. They are not your fault. You can't fix them. They are not your responsibility. Working harder and faster will not help. Keep in mind that the only person or thing you can control is yourself -- you are the manager of your career. Don't ever give that responsibility to your employer. With this in mind, always review -- what do I want to do and how do I get there?
Keeping doom and gloom from your personal doorsteps might be challenging but it's your attitude that will determine how well you cope. Know that when trouble knocks, a positive attitude will give you the strengths and skills to reach out and turn adversity into an opportunity.
About the author
Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group. She is also host of the weekly BowesKnows radio show and is the author of Resume Rescue and Taming the Workplace Tigers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org://www.barbarabowes.com
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