Living on the Positive Tip

“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.” – Wade Boggs

DM was in a foul mood. To be fair, his bad mood was understandable. You see, he’d been in a car accident about six months before. He was stopped at a red light when another driver plowed into his car from behind at 60 miles an hour.

Amazingly, although DM’s car was destroyed, he was not killed. But his back was wrenched so severely that he could barely get out of bed the next morning. To make matters worse, his doctor wasn’t optimistic about the injury improving without risky surgery. DM consulted two other doctors, but they had the same diagnosis.

DM’s frustration grew when he met with some lawyers. They all agreed that he had a legitimate case for damages, but that he would be unlikely to collect more than $30,000. Considering DM had a business that made him about $200,000 a year, this amount of money seemed outrageously small.

Now, don’t get me wrong. DM knew he was lucky not to be in a wheelchair … or dead. But he was still unhappy. He’d always been an athletic guy – lifting weights, wrestling, jogging, swimming. He really missed being able to do those things … probably forever.

I sympathized with DM. I had a similarly life-changing experience about 13 years ago, when the cartilage in both of my big toe joints was destroyed. In the blink of an eye, I became almost crippled. To make matters worse, ballroom dancing was my sole means of earning a living at the time. Not only was I in pain, I was facing a career disaster.

Fortunately, I found a way to get over this major hurdle.

You may have heard the expression “living on a positive tip.” It means having an extremely positive outlook on life. Well, I borrowed this term and redefined it to apply to a practical system for positive living.

After my injury, like DM, I told myself that at least I wasn’t in a wheelchair … or blind … or dead. But, as DM discovered, that didn’t help much. Because it’s one thing to say that you’ll look at the positive side of things … have your glass half full rather than half empty. But it’s another thing to truly feel that way.

What did help was a process that I labeled with the acronym A.P.E. (Accept, Plan, Execute). By implementing it, I was able to start developing a new life based on my new circumstances. Here are the steps I took:

1. Accept

I not only accepted that something bad had happened to me and that life isn’t always fair, I also accepted that it was okay for me to be upset about it. Sure, my luck could’ve been worse – but this was still lousy luck, and being sad about it didn’t make me weak or selfish.

2. Plan

Once I’d gotten past acceptance, I needed to figure out how to overcome my problem and continue to thrive. I took a two-pronged approach. Part one of my plan was to continue to seek out the best possible medical attention. This included doing research and locating specialized sports physicians. Part two of my plan was to develop a career as a writer … a career that I could pursue even if my feet never improved.

3. Execute

Once I had a plan, I was invigorated and full of hope. I relentlessly sought out medical treatment – almost every type of therapy you can think of, from ice packs to acupuncture to anti-inflammatory medicines. Eventually, I underwent several surgeries. Although that didn’t cure the problem, it improved to the point where I was able to resume a light dance instruction schedule. All the while, I continued to work on becoming a writer – both a copywriter and a screenplay author.

When I told DM about my A.P.E. strategy, his eyes lit up. He started thinking about things he could do – even with his bad back – to resume enjoying his life. He decided to buy a new sports car … get involved in a few charities that he believed in … and spend more time building his art and coin collections.

The A.P.E. strategy worked for LB, too.

LB had been working as a freelancer in the legal field for 20 years. While she wasn’t getting rich from her job, she was financially comfortable. By shrewdly saving and investing her money, she was well on her way to being able to enjoy a secure retirement in only a few short years.

Then LB’s main client had a turn of fortune. Business plummeted – and they were doling out fewer assignments. LB suddenly found herself in quite a predicament.

Now, through no fault of her own, she had reason to worry about her retirement. Sure, she could dip into her savings to help pay some bills in the short term … but she needed to add to those funds, not deplete them. Yes, she was lucky that she had been smart enough to put that money away. But that didn’t change the fact that she was nervous about her future.

Like DM, LB used the A.P.E. system to dig herself out of this hole of negativity.

First, she accepted her rotten luck as just that – rotten luck. She accepted her situation and faced the responsibility of dealing with it.

Next, LB put together a plan to work as much as she could for her current main client … and, at the same time, approach other people she’d worked with throughout the years to pick up additional assignments.

With this plan in hand, she moved on to its execution. And it was easier than she expected. The work started rolling in.

It’s been a couple of years since LB overcame her career obstacle … and she’s only one year away from retiring the way she wants to. She’ll have met all her financial goals, and will never have to worry about paying the bills. She has already moved into a very nice community that has many amenities she will continue to enjoy in retirement – and she will soon have plenty of time for international travel (which is her passion).

As DM and LB learned, when you find yourself in a bad situation, “positive thinking” doesn’t get you out of it. Telling yourself you’re lucky it wasn’t worse isn’t a practical solution. But the A.P.E. strategy – which calls for adopting a positive outlook AND a specific action plan – is.

[Ed. Note: Learn about Paul’s A.P.E. system – and the other strategies in his “Positive Tip” program – on his website.]