Two years of chaos have created a tsunami of burnout that’s wiping out the motivation of high achievers. You see, ambitious people are tough. They fight adversity. They focus on positives. In calm times this strategy pays off because it leads to effort being rewarded. During turbulent times, though, it leads to exhaustion. Why? Because in tough times, your ‘positive attitude’ can easily become toxic positivity. As I explain in this month’s video, this is particularly the case if you rely on ‘will-power’ alone to drive your success.
The fact is, it takes energy to maintain a positive mindset. But how do you keep your energy high during tough times? The answer is simple. Know the difference between useful optimism and toxic positivity. Constructive optimism is like a fighter jet on an important mission. It’s focused and heading towards a clear target. Toxic positivity, though, is like a fighter jet with a damaged navigation system. It’s burning up fuel and travelling at high speed – but it has no guidance and no safe place to land. If you’re someone who believes in focusing on the positive, but you’ve recently been feeling worn out and dispirited, you may have strayed into the zone of toxic positivity. Here are three signs this is the case and that you need a new way to cope with life’s ups and downs.
Sign 1: Finding the ‘upside’ seems to take more and more effort
When your resilience is high, it’s easy to focus on the positives. When your mental stamina drops, though, it’s easier to see the negatives. After all, your brain is hard-wired to notice potential threats. Plus, a tired brain is less able to focus on the positive possibilities. This means it becomes much harder to find the ‘upside’ to challenges and negative experiences. When this happens, you need to build your support system. You should NOT keep pushing yourself to think positively or to go it alone.
Sign 2: You are staying in a ‘great job’ that doesn’t inspire you
Just because you’ve been promoted or have a job with a great many perks, that doesn’t mean it’s the right job for you. It’s easy to be swayed by the opinions of your friends and family. But if you don’t find your job rewarding, it might be time for a change. This is particularly true if you’ve been promoted beyond your zone of happiness.
For example, many talented professionals regret taking promotions into management roles. Why? Because the higher they climb on the leadership ladder, the less they get to do the ‘hands-on’ work of their profession. Toxic positivity keeps people in this sad place. True positivity gives them the strength to find new roles that align with their passion and purpose.
Sign 3: You have recovered from a bad experience, but you are still not thriving
There’s a huge difference between simply getting over a problem and being resilient. Indeed, a defining characteristic of resilience is that it leads to growth and re-energisation. If you’ve moved past a negative event and are still low in mojo and energy, it’s time to shift your attention away from the past and towards an inspiring future. See my recent article 3 Ways of Thriving in Adversity for suggestions about how to do this.