I love my work. And for a long time, I felt that if I was committed to my work, I should set big goals and achieve them.

But when I didn’t achieve a goal, the negative loop would start: mood swings, negative self talk, drawn out conversation to my husband, friends, or parents about why I just wasn’t cut out to do what I set out to do.

I’d let it all out then wait for some validation. “No, you’re meant for this. Keep going,” my mom and husband would say. This would last for days. Then, I’d grab at the validation, holding onto it tight, tight, tight—and try to make progress.

Intellectually, I’ve known for a long time this is the wrong approach to progress. In fact, after I burned out in 2015 and shut down my first company, I knew working from a healthier, happier place was critical to making any sort of impact. I was committed to getting there—and I did.

Negative self-talk keeps us stagnant, and worse, often sets us back in more ways than we realize.

But there’s always room for improvement, and the other day I had an epiphany–not intellectually but intuitively–that living in the negative is one thing we can cut out to boost our productivity and get closer to our goals. Negative self-talk keeps us stagnant, and worse, often sets us back in more ways than we realize.

Below are three ways to help you shift to a positive mindset so you can achieve your career goals—and feel good doing it.

Get Clear On the Implications

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There have been countless studies on how negative self talk harms us, personally and professionally. Below are a few ways I’ve noticed negative self-talk is harmful.

●︎ Lack of progress: Negative self-talk only shows us what we can’t do—it's the opposite to being solutions-oriented. That means the longer we’re in the negative loop, the more like it is that we won’t find a creative solution to our problems.

●︎ Waste of time: The minutes, hours, days we spend beating ourselves up add up and become significant throughout our lifetime.

●︎ Loss of money: Time is money, and that’s all I’ll say here.

●︎ Lack of joy: Ultimately, I feel the greatest harm is done here. Life is short. When we’re operating from a happier place, we’re not only adding value to ourselves, but to each person around us.

Take Inventory of Your Moods—And Counter Negativity

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So, how do we fix negative self-talk? The first step is pinpointing when it typically happens. Think: When do you beat yourself up? And how often does it happen in one day? Track this for one to two days to get a baseline.

Jena Booher, Founder of Babies on the Brain and a Ph.D. candidate in Psychology, uses the Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts with her clients, a methodology used in cognitive therapy.

Clients using this method learn to self-monitor changes in their mood, label their emotions, and recognize the thoughts that connect to those emotions. Then, she suggests clients use positive self-talk statements to counter their negativity.

“Some common negative thoughts we all experience include feelings of worthlessness, shame, and guilt," Booher says. "One way to change that dialogue is to develop positive self-talk statements as a way to increase confidence and a positive self image. Telling yourself ‘I’m smart’ or ‘I’m creative’ is one way to change the dialogue.”

Sometimes, though, we need to let ourselves feel down. We need to feel the pain and the frustration so we can process it and move forward. But to differentiate between these two scenarios, ask yourself: Is this something I need to feel right now? If yes, feel it. If not, adopt a method to monitor and overcome the negativity.

Get Clear on Your Positive Triggers

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What makes you feel good? I’m not referring to shopping or Facebook likes or anything like that—I’m referring to a routine you can build into your day to help you grow and shift from negative to positive.

Take inventory of your moods to see how you can make incremental shifts everyday.

For me, it’s Dr. Dyer’s podcast or reading spirituality books. Or, I’ll write in my journal and meditate. These activities help me process whatever’s happening in my head while also helping me shift to a more positive outlook.

Here is a thorough list of positive trigger resources you can download and refer to anytime you’re feeling blue.

So, How Do You Achieve Your Career Goals?

If you’re hating your 9 to 5, I get it. I’ve been there. If the job search feels completely overwhelming and demoralizing, I also know the feeling.

The more you think about hating it, though, the more you’re living in the misery of it. Take inventory of your moods to see how you can make incremental shifts everyday. And when in doubt, refer to this list of positive triggers.

This article originally appeared on BelmaMcCaffrey.com.


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