Whether you're a seasoned CEO or a newly-hired employee, there is always room to improve your productivity and to challenge yourself to achieve greater things. In the business world, solutions for self-improvement are often quantifiable and action-based, like numbers of cold-outreach calls made or time spent collecting data on consumer behavior.

But what happens when mental blocks get in the way of action? Maybe criticism from a manager (constructive or not) has you questioning your abilities, or you're not sure where to even begin on a new project, so you're putting it off out of dread. Though we all would like to power through slumps in morale by simply doing more, studies have shown that a negative view of ourselves and/or the tasks at hand can hinder our ability to get things done. In other words, a constant negative thought life can yield negative results in your work life.

One of the best ways to combat negativity at work is to utilize positive affirmations, which are simple statements that describe a goal or a truth you want to embed in your brain. They can be self-focused ("No more zero days") or outward-focused ("I appreciate my job and the people I work with"), and, when repeated, they can adjust your subconscious mind to think more positively. Though the idea of self-talk is uncomfortable for some people, with practice positive affirmations can become a helpful and freeing habit. Here are a few ways to use them at work.

1.) Affirm yourself.

Probably the most common types of affirmations are those we use to affirm our value of ourselves. A string of bad days, mistakes, or decisions that didn't pan out can cause us to question our capabilities and fumble on tasks we would normally do with ease. Affirmations of truth ("I am reliable, responsible, and respected") can be helpful in times of doubt, as well as affirmations of goals. ("I'm excited about today. It's going to be productive and fulfilling.")

Affirmations don't have to be spoken out loud, but they do need to be repeated to gain effect. If you're not a fan of talking to yourself in a mirror, choose an affirmation that resonates with you and write it down. Place it somewhere you'll see it every day, maybe in front of your computer, and meditate on it when you're feeling overwhelmed or under-qualified.

2.) Affirm your job.

Even the most productive among us have hit slumps where we don't feel like doing anything but organizing our email boxes and scheduling meetings. These down-times could be because of risks that make us hesitant to move forward, issues we don't want to tackle, or sheer boredom. No matter what the cause, positive affirmations about our jobs and the ways we do them can help break us out of the doldrums.

The next time you're feeling unproductive or are dreading starting a task, take out a notebook and write down the thing you're dreading and why. ("I don't know what to include in this presentation, and I'm afraid I'll look inept.") Then, create an affirmation that counters the negative feeling. ("I have an great and challenging job, and I am ready to learn today" or "I am excited to complete this presentation today.") Write the affirmation over and over again until you feel more energized to complete the tasks at hand.

3.) Affirm the people around you.

Encouraging the people you work with can have a powerful impact on their perspectives, especially if you're a leader. At Greenleaf Book Group we emphasize praise and recognition because an employee who is proud of himself or herself will take pride in his or her work. When everyone on the team is putting their best foot forward because they're confident that they can, we see incredible results.

As you prepare for one-to-one meetings with employees, pick out one of the employee's great qualities and make an affirmation out of it. ("You're a master of efficiency," or "Your patience and persistence inspire the team.") Write the affirmation down on a sticky note or card so that the employee can hang it up if they wish.

Whether you're having difficulty motivating yourself or others, positive affirmations can break through negativity and inspire great work. Figure out what pain points are in the way and choose affirmations to counter them, and you'll see confidence, productivity, and camaraderie grow stronger every day.

Published on: Jul 13, 2017