Updated: Oct 12, 2020
Start off fearing and dreading the day and you have set yourself up for failure
There have been countless studies on the importance of being positive, but in the year of 2020, it can be difficult. Most veterinary hospitals have experienced major disruptions in the way they operate daily. While most hospitals are experiencing record setting high caseloads, others are struggling to keep their doors open. Starting off the day with positive thoughts is the first step to having a good day. But how do we do that, especially now?
Stop the #$&! Complaining in the Morning
We walk into our hospitals and the dread of the day begins. We hear statements such as:
“I can’t believe another surgery got scheduled. We will be stuck here late.”
“I knew he’d call out again. He’s always calling out. Why does he even work here?!”
“Oh no! Hershey is coming in again!? His owner is going to take up at least an hour of our time.”
“I’m so sick and tired of this weather.”
“Ugh, I’m exhausted and it’s only 7:05 in the morning.”
Often these are the many statements first made as team members wearily cross into the threshold of the hospital. Heads are down, audible moans are produced and negative statements are made.
“Imagine coming in to a workplace where people are happy”
It Starts The Moment You Wake up
The alarm goes off and your first thoughts are how you do not want to go to work. You step out of bed and let out a moan as you shuffle to the bathroom. You start thinking about your work day. You start worrying about your work day.
“I hope Caitlyn doesn’t call out again.”
“No one better have scheduled any extra surgeries.”
“I am not dealing with Mrs. Jackson today. I don’t have the energy.”
You have not even started your work day and you are dreading the day, fearing what may happen and angry about situations that have not even occurred yet.
There have been many suggestions written on how to wake up and start off with more positive thoughts. Some suggest waking up and thinking about three positive affirmations or writing three things down you are grateful for before you get out of bed. For me, I’m a more visual person. I need a visual reminder of something that makes me smile and provides me happy thoughts.
Bring Out the Sticky Notes!
Write down a word or phrase of something that makes you smile and put it on one of the first things you see, your phone, alarm clock or bathroom door. For some of us that could be the top of a toilet! By seeing the word or phrase you wrote down you will produce a happy thought. This happy thought will release chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine into your brain that will produce more happiness.
Imagine waking up. You stumble to the bathroom and there on the door it says “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup” or “My Cat McFluffers” or “My Son.” Take a look at that note, think about the thing that makes you happ
y and smile. It’s hard to start the day off negatively if you are thinking about chocolate. A study in 2012 out of the University of Kansas showed that a smile produced both positive physiological and psychological benefits especially during times of stress. Starting the day off with a smile is important for us to be able to set our day up for success.
Now Challenge the Team
Once you learn how to start your day off with a smile, it is time to talk to the team about the importance of starting the day off on a positive note. Challenge your team not be negative for the first 30 minutes of the day. If you think that will be exceedingly difficult, start with a 10-minute challenge and slowly work up to 30 minutes. Imagine if you came into work, and instead of the team talking about how miserable they were, they smiled and laughed?
Yes, there are exceptions to the rule. If someone’s child is sick or someone was in a car accident, then complaining is allowed. In most hospitals, however, the complaining has to do with staff who do not want to be there, dread the day, worry about a patient, or gossip about other team members.
Leadership needs to ensure the success of the challenge. In hospitals where this is most successful, I find that the employees hold each other accountable. If someone starts to complain about the weather only seven minutes into the shift, another employee will say, “Sorry, but you have to wait another 23 minutes before you can complain about the weather.” It usually gets a good laugh and reminds people that they are trying to start off positive.
Teams that have been successful with this challenge have seen a decrease in overall negativity throughout the rest of the day. After 30 minutes teams are well into their day and, because it wasn’t set up with dread and anxiety, the negativity throughout the rest of the day decreases.
It is so simple but so powerful. If we start the day off with negative conversations, we will be exhausted even before we see the first client. If we start off with positivity we smile more and have a better day.
Accept the challenge.
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