Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hell or High Water

The Hell or High Water Goal: a planned course of action that is adhered to, with complete commitment, no matter what the circumstances.

I began to employ my first Hell or High Water Goal seven years ago. That is when I was dark, moody, quick to anger, and sharp-tongued every day. I didn't like myself very much. I read somewhere that you should find someone that acts like they feel like you want to feel, and act like they do. The author (I can't remember who it was now) said that at first you will feel stupid and phony and people will probably make fun of you. Then something magical happens. Somewhere along the line, you actually begin feeling the way you act.

There was a manager where I worked that acted like he felt like a million bucks every day. Every day he came to work, he had a giant smile on his face. He would slap people on the back and tell them how glad he was to see them. He gave his very best effort at every single thing he did. He was always saying things like, "I'm taking it up a notch, baby." On a scale of 1 to 10 on the cheery scale, he was an 11. My coworkers would roll their eyes at his corniness, but whenever he walked into the room, the mood was elevated significantly.

I thought to myself, I want to feel like a million bucks. So, I tried an experiment. I decided to act just like my manager. I was very theatrical. I walked in all smiles the next day. I complimented every single person I encountered and told them how happy I was to see them. I also did the best job I could do. At first, he thought I was making fun of him. He cocked an eyebrow at me. "I'm upping my game, baby!" I shouted and then high-fived him. I continued to grin like an idiot for the rest of my shift.

Then I went home and got drunk. I was exhausted from the sheer effort of being cheery. I, grudgingly, admitted, though, that it had been kind of fun. So, I tried it again the next day. I got the same weird looks from my coworkers. However, the second day was easier than the first. When I got home, I didn't put my smile away with my uniform. I kept it on for a while and said some nice things to my roommate. By the third day, I realized that while this new attitude still wasn't coming naturally to me, I was enjoying it. I made a decision then and there. Come hell or high water, I was going to have a great attitude at work. Even if it killed me.

Some amazing things started to happen. I went from being a background employee to one that the managers looked to for input. My customers started responding to me in a new way. I began to make friends with some of them and seeing them after work. One of my coworkers, whose bright demeanor clashed with my earlier dark sarcasm, invited me to go with her to a poetry workshop. I found that I enjoyed it immeasurably. I stopped having to work so hard at my cheeriness and found that I wasn't just acting happy anymore. I was starting to actually BE happy.

Now, that's successful goal-setting.


Abby said...

This is an encouraing post. I'm a cynic to the core, so my attitude oftentimes is, well, sarcastic. But I have found the more I smile, the better I feel, even if it gives me a headache. ;-)

April W said...

I'm a pretty dark character some of the time. But, all the time is a little much. Thanks for stopping by.

Scarlett Parrish said...

I love this post.

At first it does feel like you're at best acting, at worst a fake...but I believe your attitude is mirrored back to you, so maybe I should try being a bit more cheerful.

Within the bounds of my own personality of course! It starts with positive thinking, of course, which I've been working on recently.

And whadaya know, I'm getting a better response from others about my writing, so it's started. Baby steps, but I'm getting there.

April W said...

Thanks Scarlett. I accidentally had comments moderated. Thank you for stopping by.