“If seeing others succeed, doesn’t make you happy…You’re doing life wrong.”

I came across this quote several months ago and wrote it down because it felt significant. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of feeling inadequate. You either thought that you’d be farther along by now in your career, you don’t understand the lecture like you expected to, or you see a social media feed of accomplishments that make yours pale in comparison. We are bombarded with information from others and it’s natural for us to measure our lives next to those that seem successful. But I’m here to remind you, because this is not new information, that you do you – and to take inspiration from those that you admire instead of living in a place of envy. We can’t always control what happens in our lives, but we can certainly control our responses. Because I have faith in this concept of control, it changes how I interact with others. I can control my attitude. I can control how I manage my time. I can control how I face challenges.

Your attitude is a learned behavior. Too often people get trapped in the mentality that they can’t control their circumstances so they choose to become victims of them. That victimhood is comfortable and shifts the blame from themselves, but it is not productive. I’ve worked with students who have undoubtedly fallen on hard times, but choose to believe that everyone and everything is against them. This belief can be toxic and can impact your employability and academic performance. If you enter into a situation as if it will go negatively, behave as if that’s the inevitability, you will be treated accordingly. You will also fail to recognize opportunities for help when they are offered.

I believe people have more control over outcomes than even they realize, and my theory is supported by the Henry Ford quote, “whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” I see this every day when working with students in their job search. Those who have access to similar means and resources can still differ in how difficult they find the process – the students who believe job searching is difficult or unfair will have less success than the student who approaches it confidently and with optimism.

If I didn’t have faith that people were in control of their attitudes and outcomes, then my position would be pretty obsolete. I will continue to believe that if equipped with the right tools you can achieve success, but ultimately it’s up to you to do the work. So if you’ve been feeling resentful of a situation or another person, or if you feel like nothing has been going right, I challenge you now to regain control of your attitude. Decide to be happy for those around you and reinvest in some positivity.