Dr Bev Smallwood

Articles Library: Coping

How To Keep a Postive Mental Attitude When Business is Down:

Make the Most Of the Best And the Least Of the Worst

Every business (and every life!) has its ups and downs. Some are predictable (like seasonal cycles), and negative events catch you off guard (like an employee who suddenly leaves or even steals from you.)

Psychological research proves that people who optimistic, focusing on strengths and assets rather than weaknesses and liabilities, are clearly better able to maintain mental and physical health, to achieve success in education and business, and to weather the inevitable adversities of life. The facts are in; a positive mental attitude creates a more positive life!

How can you develop more positive thought habits, especially when your circumstances aren’t looking so good? It’s true that habits in general are hard to change, and thought habits can be even more difficult. However, you can do it if you do these ten important things.

1. Make the most of the best and the least of the worst. When you look at a situation, what do you focus on first? If you zero in on what’s wrong, or what could be wrong in the future, you’ll live in a negative world. Get out a pencil and paper and force yourself to find and write down what could possibly be good about the situation.

2. Don’t sit down when you have a setback. Successful people have as many setbacks as other people...it’s just that they keep on keeping on. When you have a setback (and you will!) pick yourself up, dust yourself off, ask yourself what you could do differently next time, and get into action again!

3. Have realistic expectations, and plan for the predictable cycles. Don’t get caught off guard every year by decreased customer interest in tanning during certain seasons. Expect and plan for the problem beforehand. What services can you add during off seasons that customers are interested in year-round? For example...what about massage, or nails? These may not work for you, but get those creative juices flowing!

4. Work at being an optimist Optimists have three specific thought habits, according to optimism expert Dr. Martin Seligman (Book, Learned Optimism.)

Test yourself...

  • Do you view your situation as temporary, or do you imagine that this problem will go on forever?
  • When you experience difficulties, do you treat them as specific failures that need correction, or do you see yourself as a failure?
  • Do you accurately describe your business difficulties, or do you over-personalize and blame yourself for things that are outside your control?

4. Line your actions up to support the good that could possibly come out of the situation. In other words, don’t sit and wring your hands and worry. Don’t get caught up in other people’s bad attitudes. Acting in healthy ways, no matter how others choose to act, will position you to receive the good things that are possible. You’ll learn some positive lessons even in bad situations...if you choose to look for them.

5. Don’t get bitter; get better. One way to assure that a traumatic event will continue to control you is to let your anger harden into bitterness. Bitterness, grudges, and thoughts of revenge weaken you physically, interpersonally, and emotionally. After a while, the bitterness begins to color your view of the entire world. You and your valued relationships will suffer. Negative events can take you on an emotional roller coaster if you allow them.

6. Choose to choose. Remember, your problems are not your problems. It’s your attitudes and your responses that are the problems. Life will throw you some curve balls, but you don’t have to strike out of the game. You can’t control all the things that happen to you in life, but you can choose how you are going to respond. Take control of your responses. Back off, think, then choose. Choose to respond in constructive ways.

7. Get off your “but’s” and get moving. What are your but’s? “I want to do this, but...” “I could do better, but...” “But” is an eraser...it erases what went before it. What are you going to do about those barriers? It’s your life.

8. Learn to laugh at yourself. You’ll never run out of material! Humor is probably the best of all strategies for dealing with the “stuff” of life. Laughter literally releases pleasure chemicals and builds your immune system. Don’t tell yourself in a stressful situation, “We’ll look back on this and laugh.” Do it now!

9. When things get rough, connect with supportive friends. It helps to know you are not alone. Friends in the business are especially valuable, as they will probably understand exactly what you are going through. Other trusted friends will understand what it’s like to go through discouragement. Don’t be afraid to connect and ask for support.

10. Accept what you can’t change, change what you can, and be wise enough to know the difference. The famous “Serenity Prayer” gives sage advice. It’s probably not a good idea to try to fight customers’ established patterns. They will do what they want to do. Instead, look for things you can do to improve the flow of your business, overall. Become a better planner, budgeting for needs during difficult times. Think about new ways to serve your customers. These are things you can do...and they’ll pay off, year after year!

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist and professional speaker who is the author of “This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.” Visit her website, www.DrBevSmallwood.com; or contact Bev at 601.264.0890 or by email, Bev@DrBevSmallwood.com. Also connect with Bev on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and her blogs, Shrink Rap and New Morning Devotionals.

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