Updated: Jul 24, 2020
I don’t know how your Manic Monday is going, but mine feels extremely manic, with a never ending to-do list, emails to reply to, meetings with collaborators, data to analyze, students to supervise, troubleshooting of another experiment giving funny results… Not to mention the final edits to my PhD thesis and the delightful bureaucratic madness that comes with it.
Last week we discussed how our brain is prone to notice the negative and hold on to it, and there are studies that show how it is more difficult to change our perspective of a situation from negative to positive compared to the opposite scenario. So this Monday has a very high chance of pointing out all the negative aspects of this job and my way of dealing with it, and all the mistakes made from the beginning of my scientific career until today will be staring at me with disapproval.
On days like this I find it more difficult to keep a positive and productive attitude, that’s why I think it’s so important to have small but frequent reminders to help us put things in perspective. If we got this far, for sure we did at least something good!
For a start, we should begin to celebrate the small and big wins of every day. And by celebrating I mean giving ourselves the credit for what we accomplished. Most days we just take it for granted that we will do this and that, so small but important steps that build our career towards our goals remain unnoticed, not only by others but by ourselves.
Photo by @progressive on Unsplash
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting to go around bragging about our last paper, that great idea we had for our project, or how smartly we replied to that tricky question at the seminar. I’m talking about training our mind to pay more attention to the positive aspects instead than overthink everything that goes wrong. Of course it’s important to understand and learn from mistakes, but it looks like our brain is already perfectly capable of remembering them, while we need to put extra effort to give at least the same weight to our accomplishments.
Then let’s start noticing all the small steps that brings us forward everyday, especially when feeling stuck.
Small wins you should be celebrating:
Crossing out a few items from your to-do list.
Sending that difficult email to a collaborator that is delayed in delivering data.
Reorganizing your files or the samples in the freezer.
Updating your lab book.
Read that article you downloaded ages ago.
Taking the time to give feedback to your student.
Having a coffee with your colleagues.
Arriving earlier than usual.
All of these and much more deserve a celebration and a smile, a daily boost of positivity multiple times per day!