| Career Zone – A new year, a positive new outlook
AWWA Articles

Career Zone – A new year, a positive new outlook

By Brian Tracy

This article summarizes a column published in the AWWA Rocky Mountain Section’s March-April 2021 newsletter. It was written by Brian Tracy, deputy director of operations and maintenance for South Platte Renew in Colorado.

Career ZoneDuring my time as a utility leader, I’ve been drawn to positive psychology and its implications for the happiness and wellbeing of myself and those around me. If you’re interested in creating a more positive worldview and increasing your success, I recommend reading Shawn Achor’s 2010 book, The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life.

Achor, a Harvard-educated researcher, suggests that happiness leads to success. His book includes seven happiness principles, which are summarized below.

  1. When we’re happy, our mindset and mood are positive, and we tend to be more motivated and successful. Happiness can be cultivated by pursuing meaningful life goals, practicing an optimistic and grateful mindset and participating in rich social relationships. Simple steps toward achieving this include buying someone lunch or scheduling a highly-anticipated experience.
  2. We can consciously develop a more positive world view by shifting our thought process using our mental “fulcrum and lever.” Through practice, we can condition ourselves to think more positively and become happier and more likely to achieve our full potential. The more we believe in our ability to succeed, the more likely we will succeed. 
  3. We can train ourselves to see things through a positive lens. This is illustrated through the Tetris Effect, named after a Harvard Medical School study in which participants play Tetris – a puzzle video game – for 36 straight hours. After the study, participants reported that the activity began to pattern their mental images and they continued to see Tetris shapes in activities such as exercising or grocery shopping.
  4. We can view setback as a steppingstone to moving up. Most successful people “fall up,” meaning they challenge the beliefs that led to their failure and turn negative experiences into positive ones.
  5. Setting and achieving consecutive small, manageable goals can give us the confidence to succeed at larger goals, particularly in challenging situations. This concept is called the Zorro Circle, named after the fictional, masked vigilante who started out trying to do too much, too quickly, and learned to succeed through focus and control. 
  6. Increase your ability to make positive changes by finding ways to remove small barriers and minimize the effort required. This is known as the 20-Second Rule. For example, make it easier to go to the gym by keeping your packed gym bag at the front door.  
  7. Investing time and effort into meaningful social connections pays happiness dividends throughout our lives. 

While all of us experience bad days and negative emotions, we can learn to consciously steer ourselves out of negative thought cycles and generate more positivity and happiness in our lives. What better way to start the new year?

More career resources and job opportunities are available at AWWA’s Career Center and at Work for Water.