Success is not a destination, it’s a direction: Forward. However, it’s surprisingly easy to end up going sideways in life. Aimlessly moving neither forward nor backward. Passing time, waiting for a sign or a miracle. I’ve experienced this in my life, and I’m sure at some point you likely have too.
In some cases, a tragedy or adversity sends us spinning like a top. A death in the family, a lost job, foreclosure, divorce, etc. But in most cases, we go sideways because of our thought patterns and not reality. While life is still good to us, we find a way to go negative on the inside, and quickly steer our career into the abyss. Our thoughts shape our way of seeing the world, and design our emotional response system.
How does this happen? We change what we put into our mind. We start to listen to a new program on the way to work. At first, we enjoy the shocking news or crude humor, but then it eventually seeps into our psyche. Or we start to hang out with a mean spirited or pessimistic person at work. He eventually convinces us the sky is falling and that most people are ‘out to get you’.
As we are adding these negative inputs, we stop consuming the positive. Our mind is quite binary in that it’s hard to enjoy both diets at the same time. The former inoculates us from the latter. If the world is coming to an end and people can’t be trusted, how can you be grateful?
At some point, the negative inputs change our focal point, and our work suffers greatly. Our new perspective makes us less appealing to others and less resilient when faced with a challenge. The little failures that follow likely confirm our dour outlook, and we add to the problem by increasing the negative inputs: More bad friends, more bad programming.
Here’s the risk: At some point you stop moving sideways, gain traction and then enter the downward spiral. Going backwards into self-destruction. That’s when it becomes hard to right the ship. There’s not clear threshold either. You won’t see the shift into reverse coming.
Here’s your way out: Feed Your Mind Good Stuff. Be as judicious about what you put into your head as what you put into your mouth. If you find yourself muttering internally about all the things wrong with your life, this country or the world — check your sources of information. Scrutinize them for positive-neutral-negative intentions. Rethink your media patters and consider changing out your work friendships.
Once you scrub out the negative inputs in your life, replace them with constructive ones. Spend your first 45 minutes of each morning reading from a book that gives you confidence, inspiration or direction. Find a new colleague at work to lunch or spend time with, and give her as much positive feedback as she gives you. Quickly, you’ll find yourself moving forward again, as your thoughts dictate your actions and reactions.
If you know someone who has suddenly jerked his career sideways, and you cannot figure out why, now you know. And it’s time for YOU to be the positive inputs in his life.