You glance up at the clock on the wall. It’s 3:30 p.m. and your 5:00 p.m. deadline is quickly approaching. You take a deep breath and exhale slowly, moving your head from side-to-side and relaxing your shoulders. “I can do this,” you mentally tell yourself several times as you finalize the financial analysis assigned by your boss and get prepared to share your recommendations for cost reductions.
That little voice in our heads we hear before, during or after situations throughout each day is known as “self-talk.” This internal voice can be positive or negative, and, it can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For example, I often have people ask for advice on how to obtain a raise or a promotion at work. Those with a positive attitude – that they are worthy of a higher salary or a promotion – are much more likely to accomplish their goal because their self-talk is positive. Their internal discussions reinforce their belief that they can figure out a way to make it happen (thus it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy). And, their outlook on life tends to be optimistic.
On the flip side, people wanting to obtain a raise or promotion who have a negative attitude – an attitude in which they doubt they will ever get the raise or promotion they want because… and then they proceed to list for me all the reasons why they don’t believe it will happen – are engaging in negative self-talk.
That type of internal negativity can often end up surrounding the person to such an extent that he/she becomes demotivated and doesn’t want to go through the steps necessary to map out an action plan to accomplish their goal. These are usually the people who won’t end up getting that coveted raise or promotion (and whose outlook on life tends to be pessimistic).
This is mainly because negative self-talk gives a person a reason to cut themselves slack, to be “off the hook” for their behavior and thus for the outcomes. Let’s face it, how many times have you heard someone say something like, “Oh, I’m not even going to apply for the job because they’ll just give it to John (or Jane) anyway and then tell me I’m not qualified.”
Like in the children’s book, The Little Engine That Could, maybe it’s about time to give yourself some encouraging words. Mentally telling yourself, “I think I can, I think I can,” just might give you the motivation you need to create a plan of action to accomplish your career dreams.