How having a positive outlook, and some time management skills can help you succeed professionally

By:   W. Jon Windsor, MLS(ASCP)CM

A few things to start…

Throughout college, you’re taught a multitude of skills in what seems like an impossibly short amount of time, except for the most important one: how to make it all work after you graduate. There are no classes that can prepare you for the workforce, it is trial by fire. The best thing your education does for you is provide you with the technical skills and knowledge to succeed, but not necessarily the “politics” behind success. In terms of the “politics”, your education in no way prepares you for things such as your coworkers, your superiors, or even the clients (patients) you may interact with on a day to day basis. The politics of the workplace are “learned on the fly”. No matter how many jobs you have maintained throughout your working or college career, not a single one prepares you for that first job you land after you graduate. Your first job will always push you to your mental limits. And on top of everything, you take it upon yourself to dedicate your free time to the betterment of your profession. It all seems impossible, right?


There is a secret to the art of balancing your career with your obligations to your profession. The secret is perspective. The definition of perspective is as follows: “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view1”. Your perspective on any situation you face can be good or bad; just as you can “view” anything as positive or negative. The common denominator is YOU.

Having a positive outlook

It is up to you to have that positive outlook on any situation no matter how grim. Stress is normal, any person who states “I don’t get stressed” is lying through their teeth. We all handle stress in different ways. If faced with a challenge and you view it as daunting, it will negatively affect your attitude which will eventually carry over into other aspects of your life. However, if you view that challenge as something to be overcome or as an opportunity to improve yourself, it can carry over in a positive way to other aspects of your life. The point to be made is that the responsibilities and requirements of any professional organization you volunteer with can be overwhelming when trying to balance everything with your day to day workload, but if you stop viewing all that responsibility as overwhelming and more as a challenge to yourself, it becomes easier and eventually enjoyable to be faced with so much responsibility, only to come out on top.

Here’s the truth

Full disclosure, no one knows what they are doing half the time, and people who claim to know everything are liars (or poorly misinformed). That is another form of perspective, surrendering to the fact that you can’t always be in control of every situation. The only true control we have over anything is our adaptability. Adaptation is the key to survival. Animals are adapting in the wild as we speak, and the same can be said for the professional lifestyle. On any given day, leaders within your professional organization will ask you something completely unexpected. Instead of stressing about knowing what other members want or which responsibilities to take on, surrender to the fact that such a task is impossible and the best thing you can do is adapt to the ever-changing balance between your work life and your growing responsibilities within your professional organization.

Time to get philosophical

Great philosopher Heraclitus once said “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man2” .That saying really hits home because it can be directly applied to every professional. Yesterday is not the same as today, and today won’t be the same as tomorrow, whether it is a change in workflow at your job, or a last-minute presentation you have to give for your professional organization. It is impossible to plan for everything. So like the river, learn to just go with the flow! If we stress ourselves out before we have had a chance to accomplish anything, the only thing we accomplish is self defeat.

Another great saying that applies to each one of us is, “Choose not to be harmed and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been2”. That phrase was coined by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. That quote basically means “get out of your own head”. It is daunting to adjust to the workforce while being active within a professional organization. Don’t choose to let that intimidate you, because then it WILL intimidate you; instead, choose to let it excite you, so that it DOES. Once you change your perspective to have a positive outlook on everything you are faced with, the rest will take care of itself.


(1)"perspective." Merriam-Webster, 2011. Web. 8 May 2011
(2) Marcus Aurelius. The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, trans. by George Long. Vol. II, Part 3. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14;, 2001