Updated: Dec 9, 2020
“We become what we think about.” | Earl Nightingale
There have been countless times in my career when the situation did not look great. In fact, it looked utterly hopeless. What I did in these situations was generate hope that the situation would improve while dealing with the practical reality facing me. I have found over the years that the following technique worked particularly well for me: I reminded myself of my past successes and the challenges that I overcame.
Now, I keep a list of all the things I am most proud of since the beginning of my career. It includes about 30 of my most significant life accomplishments, such as graduating from university, getting my first job, buying my first house, etc. I read the list when I hit a rough patch or I am not quite sure what the next steps are, and it gives me hope that my current situation will improve.
In addition to giving me hope, this list shows me how patterns developed over my lifetime. I can see that, over time, while there have been ups and downs, my trajectory has been to improve. This pattern often gives me hope, particularly if I am mired in a short-term, day-by-day problem and I start to lose perspective of the long term. It always gives me hope!
While these improvements don’t manifest themselves every single day, I know that they are coming just over the horizon. Call it faith, or unfounded optimism, but for a goal-oriented person like me, I know for sure that the future gets brighter. Always has, always will!
If you find yourself feeling hopeless about your situation, make your own list. Don’t overthink it, just jot down a list of those accomplishments of which you are most proud. This is important, since it is your list and you need to remind yourself of what worked for you, not society’s expectation of you.
Go back early into your life, to young adulthood or even childhood. There are many defining experiences in the early part of our lives that are often underestimated. Don’t dwell on them; write them down if they resonate with you. If you are a young person starting your career, do not be reluctant to include your early accomplishments such as academic performance, sports and artistic accomplishments— anything that enabled you to overcome an obstacle.
Once the list is complete, draw upon your experiences to spot the trends. Look for those times in your career where you made significant progress and seek to understand why.
If you are facing an obstacle, go back to the list and find a time where you faced a similar obstacle, and then look at all the accomplishments that immediately followed it. This will give you a renewed sense of hope that your situation will get better and that brighter days are ahead.
By Eamonn Percy
Founder & CEO, The Percy Group