5 Strategies to Cultivate an Optimistic Outlook at Work

UPDATED: October 5, 2022
PUBLISHED: October 5, 2022
5 Strategies to Cultivate an Optimistic Outlook at Work

Mindset is everything. Let’s face it: You can rarely control everything happening around you, especially at work. However, you can control how you react to things emotionally. With an optimistic outlook, your mind will be in the right space to face the challenges of your day-to-day life. Just remember that optimism is not blind positivity. Rather, it’s about painting a hopeful picture of the future—no matter your current reality.

What are some of the advantages of remaining hopeful? First, you’ll be OK when things aren’t going your way. Maybe your quarterly numbers weren’t great this time around. Perhaps you made an error and ended up feeling foolish. Optimism will enable you to move ahead knowing these are temporary setbacks.

Secondly, according to research, optimists experience longer, more satisfying relationships. Being optimistic will give you the ability to cultivate meaningful and trusting relationships with your boss and colleagues. It can be hard to communicate and collaborate with others, particularly if they respond or behave differently than you. When you lean into an optimistic attitude, you’ll have less trouble accepting that you’re not in control of what everyone else says or does.

Finally, an optimistic outlook will prompt you to brainstorm more creative solutions. You’ll be more willing to flex your emotional intelligence when faced with difficult scenarios. People with optimistic mindsets look at challenges with the understanding that even when the going gets tough, possibilities abound.

Strategies for cultivating an optimistic mindset at work

Want to know how to start seeing the world through a “glass half-full” lens? Do you want to strive for growth and stay open to what could be? You don’t have to be made of grit and determination—you just have to employ some tactics to embrace optimism. The following are some strategies you can use to foster a different mindset, improve your workplace, and boost creativity and collaboration:

1. Encourage transparency.

It’s OK to feel down during rough moments at work. Being able to say, “I feel terrible about… ” shows that you’re human, after all. It also allows you to brainstorm ways to make everything right.

In some workplaces, this kind of transparency can be intimidating, especially if your corporate culture rewards blind positivity. Nevertheless, there are serious situations that need to be acknowledged in a healthy way before you can move on to a brighter future. Practicing transparency and emotional honesty can help you take the stress and tension out of situations.

2. Give feedback when it’s warranted.

What if you’re in a managerial position and a direct report does something that deserves some private feedback and discussion? Hold tight to your optimism, but don’t avoid communicating with the other person. Sidestepping the elephant in the room creates a breeding ground for negativity. Meeting a concern head-on is good for both you and your direct report.

Think of it this way: When you privately work with a direct report to correct a behavior or solve a problem, you open the door for both of you to grow from the experience. Your direct report deserves the chance to break out of their fixed mindset and achieve success, but they can only accomplish that if you’re honest and brave.

3. Set short-term and long-term goals.

When you achieve the goals you’ve set, you get an immediate dopamine rush. So, lay out some workplace-related short- and long-term goals. If you’re working in a team environment, embolden your team to have goals, too.

Goals should be challenging enough to require hard work to move the needle forward, but never so unrealistic that they cannot be obtained.

4. Practice gratitude.

Shout-outs cost nothing, yet they can do so much to help nurture a sense of optimism. When someone helps you out, express your thanks in a thoughtful, meaningful way. This could mean sending an email or writing a handwritten card. Don’t be surprised if your co-workers pick up on this habit and start imitating you.

You can take gratitude a step further if you’re a supervisor by setting up daily affirmations with your team. Ask team members to affirm one another and talk about the wins they saw their teammates achieve the day before. Then, have them talk about how they hope to move the needle forward in the next 24 hours.

5. Encourage bold thinking.

Coming up with a solution all by yourself can feel wonderful, especially if you’ve been wrestling with a problem. The next time you feel overwhelmed, force yourself to come up with a structured game plan to overcome your dilemma. Include objectives and a roadmap to get you to a better place. During the pandemic, researchers found that, in conjunction with mindfulness, making plans helped people maintain an optimistic mindset.

Again, this is something you can do with your whole team if you’re in a leadership position. Help people tap into their critical thinking skills when they’re feeling helpless or hopeless. Mentor them so that, thanks to a dose of optimism, they can rise to meet challenges.

It’s not realistic to be positive all day, every day. But you can be optimistic. Just remind yourself that the here and now is fleeting. With some patience and an open mind, tomorrow could be even better.

Amie Milner is the executive vice president of sales enablement at Abstrakt Marketing Group, a business growth company that provides lead generation solutions.