When Katy walks into the school where she works as a custodian, her coworkers can feel her positive energy. Katy doesn’t command a high salary, a prestigious title or position of authority—but she does come to work in charge of herself and her attitude. Katy recently told me, “If I start the day off right, more often than not, it ends up right.” I asked her what advice she has for us, and here’s what she said:
Tell your brain what to focus on.
Katy realizes her company and the people she works with aren’t perfect. While she doesn’t ignore the imperfections, every morning she tells herself, “Today I choose to see what’s right, so I can keep what’s wrong in perspective.” Katy also told me, “A few years ago I read a book on happiness and the brain, and it said I have to tell my brain what to focus on. I started doing that and it works.”
Know why you go to work.
Sure Katy loves her paycheck, but every morning she reminds herself of other reasons to go to work beyond supporting her family. Here are some of the deeper purposes connected to her work day: Using and developing her strengths and talents, enjoying being around people, setting an example of a strong work ethic for her children, taking pride in her work, and so on. Take some time this week and dig deep to answer the question, “Why do I go to work?”
End the day on a strong note.
Katy told me that on her way home she reminds herself of something from her day that makes her feel good. She says it makes it easier to start her morning off strong. I asked Katy what she tells herself if on one day everything seems to go wrong. She replied, “Because I tell myself in the morning to focus on what’s right, instead of what’s wrong, I can always find something to feel good about—even if it’s telling myself I got through a tough day.”
–Alan Allard, Executive Coach