At the end of 2020, there was a collective sigh of relief among many about the return to a “new normal”. A sense of optimism was in the air because it seemed as though we had turned the corner on COVID-19. Yes, like others, I saw the horizon ahead as bright and hopeful—travel to meet with clients, conference attendance, and of course, family visits. During 2021, the “new normal” was short lived.

Here we are, embarking on the year 2022, as a country, and as a global society, and we are still off-balance; disequilibrium continues. There is an aura of pessimism in many sectors because the sense of predictability, continuity, and forecasting for the future seems to be out of reach.

There are times in my life when a sense of pessimism crept in, principally because my career was on the precipice of change. I have always appreciated the advice from a graduate school mentor. When I told her that the leadership position I had hoped for was not mine, she quickly quipped, “Don’t worry. Something else will come your way.” Her counsel was to keep moving and not look back and to look at the glass as half-full and not half-empty. Other opportunities were around the corner.

In this continuing period of uncertainty, optimism is a necessary attitude. It involves a sense of hope and confidence about the future. And because it is a mental attitude, it is within our control. Does it require effort to be optimistic? The answer is yes.

I share another career example. When I learned that I was not “tenurable” in my first university position, I had several options. The first was to continue on an annual contract, and the second was to leave. To keep moving forward, I attended a career workshop. Here I learned about visualization, a process to imagine and look ahead. In the workshop, I also gained the inspiration I needed to acknowledge that I had transferable skills. More career opportunities appeared and I continued forward.

Each person reading this blog likely has a story about how optimism was an asset in challenging times. I invite you to share your experience in the Comment section. What made a difference for you may also benefit someone else.