No matter what you do for a living, the key to success is superlative performance, day after day after day. And that’s only possible if you make optimism, expectancy, and enthusiasm part of your daily experience.

That’s easy if you’re pursuing your life’s dearest dreams.  But what if, like almost everybody else in this world, you’ve got a job that’s not exactly perfect. Here’s how to remain a go-getter, even when the getting gets tough:

STEP #1: Realize That YOU Are in Control

Your attitude isn’t controlled by the outside world.  That’s an illusion, a fantasy that, if you believe it, you’re simply using to escape responsibility for managing this all-important part of your career.

For example, if you run into snowstorm that’s making you late to a customer meeting, you can get frustrated and start cursing..., or you can look forward to the appreciation that the customer might feel because you were committed enough to fight the weather to make the meeting.

Similarly, when the economy goes south, you can start obsessing about how it’s going to affect your job, or you can be one of those individuals who use tighter budgets as a way to streamline operations, develop new markets and create innovations.

It’s all in how you see it!

STEP #2: Neutralize Your Negative Triggers

Stop letting exterior events trigger negative thoughts.

For example, suppose you’re traveling to a customer meeting but keep running into red lights and traffic delays. That IS a problem, but if you get flustered, you’ve got TWO problems: the fact that you’re late, and the fact that you’re flustered.

And if you walk into the meeting flustered, the customer might wonder if you’re moody and unreliable. So now you’ve got THREE problems.

To get a better result (and achieve a better attitude), modify your interpretation of exterior events that tend to trigger a negative outlook. Once the events in your life take on a different, more useful meaning, they won’t trigger a bad attitude.

For example, while the delays may be making you late, use the extra time to collect your thoughts, consider your options, and decide on a damage control strategy. Or use the time to come up with a better schedule, so that you always leave plenty of time, just in case there’s traffic.

As a mentor of mine once said: “Life is like those signs that say ‘You Are Here’  What you make of where you are is up to you.”

STEP #3: Detoxify Your Media Consumption

Much of today’s news programming consists of “if it bleeds it leads” stories followed by commercials offering some form of (often addictive) security or comfort. The constant flow of negative imagery automatically creates a negative attitude about life, the world, and everything in it.

If you want to maintain a positive attitude, you MUST reduce or even eliminate your exposure to broadcast news programming. Rather than waste time with that garbage, add material and content into your life that will help you become more successful (like this column!) 

Start and end each day reading something positive! When you’re on the road, rather than listening to negative, emotionally-charged talk radio, listen to motivational tapes, music that raises your spirits, or maybe great literature.

STEP #4: Avoid Negative People

You probably have one or more friends, relatives, or acquaintances who make you feel tired and drained. They always seem to have something sour to say; criticisms come to their lips far more quickly than compliments.

Such folk are toxic to your attitude (and hence to your success) because, if they’re not actively tearing down your enthusiasm, they’re trying to get you to think the same way about the world as they do.  What a drag!  Literally.

If you want to maintain a positive attitude, consider sharply limiting your daily exposure to such people. Don’t show up at the daily “water cooler complain-fest.” Don’t go to lunch with the “grouse and grumble” crowd. If you’ve got family members who are constantly negative, tune them out.

STEP #5: Adopt a Positive Vocabulary

The words that you use—both what you speak aloud and your internal dialogue—have a vast influence in how you perceive what’s happening in the world. All words carry a certain amount of emotional baggage, inherent in their exact definition and the way that they’ve been used in the past.

For instance, the words “despise,” “hate,” and “dislike” mean essentially the same thing, but carry very different emotional baggage. If you “dislike” something, but tell yourself that you “hate it” over and over and over, it will intensify the original emotion.

To keep a positive attitude, use weak words for negative feelings and strong words for positive ones. This thwarts the downward spiral of negative feelings and words, and accelerates the upward spiral of positive feelings and words.

The above is based upon a conversation with one my favorite people, motivation-guru extraordinaire Jeff Keller, and is a shortened version of one of the chapters in my newly-published book How to Say It: Business to Business Selling.