A Practical, Purposeful Attitude – Fuel for Change

How often do you stop and notice your attitude?  If you are like most people, the answer is not very often.  You might even cringe when someone mentions your attitude because your attitude went unnoticed unless your grade school teacher or your Mom thought it needed an upgrade.  But this frequently ignored aspect of ourselves can strongly influence our success; and if not our degree of success, then at least how we feel about an outcome.  An attitude is a complex state that includes how we think and feel about something that shows in our behavior. 

The other day I was washing the dishes and thinking about how unfair it was that I was working while my partner was watching TV.  As you can imagine, I was rushing and banging the dishes around more than necessary.  Then I stopped and noticed how uncomfortable I was, noticed my attitude, and decided to adjust my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  She was enjoying watching TV and I could be happy that she was relaxed and remember that she does a lot of dishes too.  And I could remember that I’m grateful to have hot running water and that sometimes it’s nice to complete a simple task that gives an easy sense of accomplishment.  Changing my attitude from resentment to appreciation resulted in enjoying what I was doing, enjoying that my partner was enjoying herself, and the dishes were cleaner and all in one piece when I finished.

One of the things that make an attitude powerful is that it influences our behavior.  It influences how open we are, how hard we try, and how we respond to set-backs.  The power of an attitude is why at ChangeWorks Institute we begin our Self-Directed ChangeWork processes by asking you to notice your current attitude toward the changes you are dealing with or are working to make.  Then we suggest that you look to see if you can find a more practical, more purposeful attitude; one that is informed by reality and is connected to your values and your dreams, rather than one that expresses your fears and disappointments. Even though finding safe and supportive ways to express your fears and disappointments is important too.

It was pretty easy to find a practical, purposeful attitude when I was washing the dishes, but what about if I had just lost an important account at work, or I couldn’t pay my rent, or my kid’s school was going to be closed for an extended period because of a pandemic.  How do I take a practical, purposeful attitude in these situations?  While it’s harder to do in these situations it is essentially the same process. 

  • Notice your current attitude – what are you thinking about – what feelings go with those thoughts – what are you doing in response to those thoughts and feelings.  If this attitude is working then that’s great, if not, then move on to the next steps. 
  • Think as objectively as you can about your situation (the fact is the kids will be home while I’m working from home, they need to have a good home learning environment)
  • Think about what you value (I value doing well at work and that requires concentration, I value my kid’s education and happiness.)
  • As informed by your objective reality and your values what do you want to be feeling and thinking, and what behaviors go along with those thought and feelings – in other words what is your practical, purposeful attitude? 

Your practical, purposeful attitude will be unique to you, and based on your reality and values. 

In the example above, my attitude shifted to gratefulness and appreciation.  As you look at your situation would a shift in attitude help, and if so what would it shift to?  Leave us a comment because we’d really like to know how you’re doing. 

Remember a practical, purposeful attitude can be the spark that propels us forward – much like the spark plug on a car that ignites the fuel creating the fire to get us where we want to go.  A practical, purposeful attitude will help us to stay safe, stay connected to reality and have reasonable expectations, and stay connected to our values and keep going when we get tired or discouraged. 

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