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Top tips from a business coach on thinking more positively when times are tough

Business and life coach Lucy Tulloch recently held a session for Aito agents on positive thinking. She speaks to Abra Dunsby about how to think more positively during these tough times


More than 40 Aito members attended business and life coach Lucy Tulloch’s recent webinar on the subject of “Making sense of your situation and finding the positives.”

Tulloch, who worked in the travel industry for more than 20 years before becoming a coach, explains: “The session offered practical tools for agents and operators to feel more in control of the current situation and ultimately more positive.”

“We talked about how if we could understand our thinking better, we could see the correlation between how it affects our behaviour, and how that in turn affects our results.

She adds: “If we change our thinking to a more positive mindset, we’re more likely to get the behaviours we want and the results we need.”

Here, we speak to Tulloch for her tips and techniques on recognising negative thoughts and adopting a more positive mindset to help boost productivity during these difficult times for the travel industry.

Get into the right mind frame

At the start of the day, write down or think about three things that were positive about the day before. This focuses the mind into thinking about the positive rather than the negative.

Address your inner voice

Notice when your inner voice is getting a bit too noisy or negative. We know our inner voice is there but often we don’t stop to listen to it. Now that we’re at home more, or perhaps for those who are furloughed, we might find we’re hearing that inner voice more loudly than ever before. Recognise that voice and any of its catastrophic thinking – when your mind goes from 0-100 and you’re thinking the worst in a situation – and instead, be sure to focus solely on the facts. If you’re thinking: “My business is definitely going to fail,” do you definitely know that for sure?

Don’t attach a negative label to yourself

Right now, if you’re an agency owner and your business is looking unstable, you might attach a label to yourself and think: “It’s my fault,” or: “I could have done something differently.”

Or, if you’re a travel professional who has been furloughed, a negative label would be: “It’s because I’m not good enough.”

By attaching a negative label to us, it roots us in unhelpful thinking. At times like now you need to be thinking: “How can I influence this situation more positively? What am I good at? Why did I have this job in the first place? Where are my strengths?” These are much more healthy labels.

Try writing a diary

“Wild journaling” is essentially diary writing. When your head is full of noise, it can be really impactful to sit down and put that all on paper. It gives you some headspace and allows you to focus again on what’s helpful. For a lot of people it can feel very liberating to get those thoughts on paper and out of their head.

Acknowledge when you’re feeling stressed or sad

To shift your mindset it’s important to recognise negative thinking, acknowledge it and try to talk it down. Try and say to yourself: “This isn’t helpful today, I’m going to find a better way through it.” If you’re feeling stressed, it’s better to accept it than to bury it in more work, or to eat or drink too much, which are common distractions. They might help us in the short term but not in the long term.

Promote positivity through acts of kindness

This can be something as simple as calling a colleague and checking they’re OK. Notice when someone who is normally quite upbeat isn’t, or equally, when someone who is usually quiet is being more vocal – it might be a sign that they need more help. Give them the space and time to talk and to be heard.

Have a mantra for yourself and for your business

This could be the mission statement for your business or it could be something you write about yourself and stick at the front of your notebook. When you are at your best, what would you say about yourself? Or when your business is its best, what would you say about it? Having that mantra written down can allow you to reflect on it.

Find some certainty

If you can’t find certainty at work right now, find it somewhere else. Focus on that thing that’s positive and within your control in your life, and remind yourself of that.

Three positivity-boosting techniques to try at home

  1. Draw up a mindset graph to reflect on the journey you’ve been on, to allow you to identify the highs, as well as some of the lows, and enable you to focus on what the positives were so you can create more of them.
  2. Create a circle of control. This can help you to identify areas you are putting too much focus on and that you can’t do anything about. It’s good to focus on what we can control, for example eating healthily and reducing time spent watching the news or using social media.
  3. A preparation envelope is a great tool to help us start thinking about working towards a goal. Identify past successes and all the helpful thinking, feelings and behaviour that helped you to achieve those successes. Identify what to think, feel and do to get a good result. This gives us energy and motivation, and a much higher chance of then achieving our goal.
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