What You Focus on Becomes Your Reality

Think positive!

How many times have you heard that phrase in your life? In preparing for your career as a patent agent or attorney, you’re likely going to hear this a lot. The patent bar exam is intimidating and finding a job can be a long, frustrating process.

As it turns out, there is merit in the idea of positive thinking. It might surprise you to learn that there is actually some scientific evidence that backs it up.

It Starts with Self-Talk

You might think that positive thinking means trying to turn every situation into a positive one, but that’s not exactly the case. You can’t ignore that there are unpleasant, sad, and even downright devastating things that happen in life. Positive thinking just means that you approach them differently. You always try to see the best possible outcome instead of the worst.

Self-talk is the stream of thoughts that go through everyone’s head, all the time. It’s also the source of positive thinking. One of the easiest ways to become a positive thinker is to identify negative thoughts when they show up. For some examples, let’s look at some common forms of negative thinking.

  • Filtering out positive things while magnifying the negative
  • Blaming yourself when things go wrong, even when they have nothing to do with you
  • Automatically expecting the worst possible outcome
  • Only seeing things as all good or all bad, all black or all white with no shades of gray

If during your preparations for the patent bar you become overwhelmed and immediately start doubting yourself, the rest of your studying probably isn’t going to be very productive. If you look at the passing rates and think, “I don’t have a chance!” then you’re definitely not walking into test day with the best attitude.

The same is true when you’re looking for a job, especially once you land an interview. You have to be able to walk into that first meeting with your future boss and believe that you can get the job. It will affect every interaction you have during the interview and give the impression that you are the best person for the job.

How to Think Positive

If you aren’t a naturally positive thinker, you can become one with a little time and effort. Treat it like any other habit. The more often you do it, the more a part of your life it becomes.

Here are some ways to practice being more optimistic:

  • Focus on the things you usually think negatively about and make a focused effort to be more positive. Start small and focus on one thing at a time.
  • Learn how to recognize when the negative thoughts get through. What triggered it? Is there a pattern? Once you can pick up on this, it’s easier to catch yourself and stop it.
  • Try to laugh as much as you can. It helps reduce stress which will automatically make you feel more positive.
  • Surround yourself with people who have a good outlook on life. You’ll get better advice and encouragement from people who always see the positive side of things.
  • Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend. It’s true that we are often meaner to ourselves than we would ever be to anyone else. Start treating yourself with the same respect you give other people.
  • Meditate to help you clear the stress and negativity from your mind.
  • Keep a journal or diary to get out any negative thoughts. Sometimes, writing down what’s bothering you is enough to get it out of your head.
  • Take a break every once in a while. Give yourself time to participate in activities you really like and that make you feel good.

Focusing on a Successful Career

The first step to being a successful patent agent or attorney is to pass the patent bar exam. As we’ve mentioned, the exam is difficult, and you might be tempted to let yourself think that it’s impossible. By learning how to think positively, you can stop those negative and intrusive thoughts.

Instead, practice positive self-talk. Tell yourself that you can do it. Congratulate yourself when you learn a section of the material. Think about other big exams that you’ve taken in your life that you did well on. Keeping a positive attitude while you prepare will help you keep motivated to put in the necessary work. The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to pass.

Keep these strategies in mind when you are job hunting, too. Instead of thinking, “why would they want me?” think, “I am awesome, why wouldn’t they want me?”  By seeing your worth and believing that good things can happen, you will approach the job hunt in a more positive way which will show through everything you do.

If you walk into an interview and don’t believe you belong there, that’s going to come through. If you walk in expecting the best possible result, that’s going to show, too. Making a good impression is important when you’re interviewing and being positive is one way to do that.

Don’t forget about self-care. Taking time to decompress before something as stressful as an interview or a big exam can do wonders for your attitude. Sometimes, all you need to get rid of negative thoughts is a clear head.

Make It Real

The true power of positive thinking isn’t magic. You can’t walk into the patent exam without preparing or show up to a job interview without the required experience and assume things are going to work out the way you want them to. But being able to picture the reality you want and believing that it’s possible will give you the motivation you need to do everything you have to do to keep preparing.

What you focus on does become your reality. If you constantly think you’re going to fail, it’s likely that you will. That said, if you allow yourself to think positively, be hopeful, and do the necessary work to prepare, then you’ll find that you might end up exactly where you wanted to be.