Tips for choosing your attitude

First, a reminder that opinions here are mine, not my employer's.

We've all heard the phrase "choose your attitude." Most frequently, it's used in response to people who complain about work. Here are some tips for choosing your attitude, particularly at work.

Let's start with some givens. We all have frustrations at work. The number and intensity of those frustrations varies greatly from individual to individual. You're working because you're in a situation that requires you to earn money (that sounds judgmental, but really it's just a fact – if you didn't need the money, you'd either be working at something that had no frustrations or not working at all).

So, here we are. You're frustrated. Now what? Here are tips for choosing your attitude at work.

Figure out what you can control and control it. This one's really hard to do. There are a lot of things you feel like you have control over, but the fact is that you don't. There are things you definitely control, though, things like the amount of effort you put into your work, the way you interact with co-workers and customers, and whether you can make things easier by, say, showing up 10 minutes early or getting up 20 minutes early and having breakfast.

Corollary 1: Figure out what you can't control and let it go. If you're working for someone else, you can't control a lot of things. (Remember that leaving is always an option; there are other jobs out there, and that is something you control.) Figure out what those things are and go at them with the expectation that you simply cannot do anything about them, so you're not going to worry anymore. If linen deliveries are on Tuesday and you're out of linens at noon on Monday, you're just not going to have any linens until tomorrow. You can't worry about it.

Corollary 2: Figure out what you can change and change it. Maybe this requires the assistance of a supervisor or co-worker. Maybe it simply requires a break from tradition, like storing something in a different place or changing vendors. Maybe it's brighter lighting so you don't feel like you're in a basement all the time.

Think about the positive things at work. If you can't list any, you're doing the wrong job. Seriously. Just go pour coffee somewhere; you get people at their crankiest and turn them into productive creatures for the day. It's pretty rewarding on a small scale, and it gives you the chance to think about what you should actually be doing. Personally, I work at a gym. It takes one person smiling over 20 pounds lost, or one story about 80 pounds gone in a year, or one person walking in the door smiling hopped up on pre-workout to lift heavy stuff asking for a fist pound to make 7 hours and 59 minutes of frustratingly bad day worth it. [And let's face it, I rarely have that much frustration, primarily because I've followed my own advice.]

Adjust your priorities. Work is just work. You're there for two reasons. One, to make someone else happy. Two, to give you time to do the important stuff. Figure out what's important to you, and figure out how to make those things happen.

Want an example of this stuff in action? It's Wednesday morning at about 5:45am. I go into work at 7. I have management responsibilities, so I'm open to getting calls, texts and emails whenever the gym's open. There's a water main break in the neighborhood, so we don't have things like showers and water fountains. It doesn't matter whether I'm sitting at my desk at home or sitting at a desk at the club – there's nothing I can do about the water main. So I'm writing this instead of rushing in. I'm in touch with a staffer who has concerns, but there's nothing I can do from the gym that I can't do from home. So I'm home, getting ready to take the dog for a walk and have breakfast before I go in, and I'll gladly have my smart phone on me throughout the morning to help keep things under control.

I get to do the things that are important to me (write, eat breakfast, spend time with Rufus). I don't try to control the things I can't control (the water main break), but I do control the things I can control (interacting with staff to keep them calm and on task). It's actually really easy to do (*sips coffee*).

What are your tips? How do you choose your attitude at work?

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2 Comments

  • Posted 11/07/2012 at 11:22 | Permalink

    Recently one of the nurses in my offices posted on Facebook that she wasn’t looking forward to coming back to work because of the patients. I gently advised her she should adjust her attitude. After all, our job is to take care of patients. She tends to grumble a bit at work anyway (and is a chronic whistler, but that’s a story for another day). Yes, we all have bad days and days we just don’t wanna. But if you find yourself not wanting to go to work because you can’t handle your job? Change your attitude or change your job.

    Not to mention she shouldn’t probably be posting crap about how much she hates her job on Facebook where people like me can see it and think she won’t be called out on it. Grr.
    Beth recently posted..It’s that time of year

    • Posted 11/07/2012 at 12:02 | Permalink

      The Facebook bit you talk about is part of our orientation. We encourage people to be involved, but remind them that duh, we can read, too. It’s amazing how dumb people are.
      Josh recently posted..Tips for choosing your attitude

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