One thing successful entrepreneurs have in common is what I call delusional optimism. In order to strike out on your own and try to create something from nothing, you have to be a delusional optimist; you have to believe that you can affect change. Only people that are delusional optimists really believe that.
Do you have a hard time feeling that kind of assurance? If this doesn’t come naturally to you, if you are habitually or by nature always expecting the worst to happen, there are some practical ways you can change your way of thinking to help you become more optimistic.
The 30-day gratitude journal is a wonderful tool. Start writing down three things that you are thankful for at the end of every single day; if you really want to challenge yourself, write down five things, and you can’t use anything from the previous entries. I promise that after 10 or 15 days you’re going to find yourself feeling thankful for a lot you hadn’t even considered. This is because once you’ve gone past the obvious stuff like family, your house and car, you are able to dig into deeper, more thoughtful places. Practicing the art of cultivating gratitude routinely is a huge piece for helping you to move toward a more positive mindset.
Another practice that can help you become more optimistic is making the time to start your day off right. I know a lot of people have very busy mornings – with two young children, I’m one of them. Every day when I get up, I take 20 minutes to do three things without fail: go over the goals for the day and study or read an inspirational business book to keep myself in the right frame of mind. I’ve heard people talk about doing this in different ways; for instance, a breathing meditation of five breaths in and five breaths out, breathing in positivity and breathing out negativity. Come up with some sort of morning-centering activity that helps you be very clear on:
- how you are going to be in that day
- how you are going to interact in that day
- how you are going to be in relationship to yourself
- how you are going to be in relationships with the people around you
Just having that intention helps to keep you out of the muck and mire.
It doesn’t mean that the world won’t sometimes interact with you in very oppressive and negative ways. Everyone has days where it feels like whatever can go wrong, does. But even when I have the worst possible day at work, I find I bounce back by the next day because I have that daily gratitude practice to center me. I do the gratitude journaling with my children at night, so they also get to come up with three things that they’re thankful for at the end of every day. We have a special book we write in, and it sits right out on our kitchen table. Sharing this practice with them is a great bonding opportunity for us, and a way to help ensure that they grow up to be thoughtful and optimistic adults.
No matter how busy you are, you can carve out the time to take control of your thoughts and your intentions. Try it for a month, and see how your optimism soars.