Do you find yourself dreading going to work every day? Being a police officer is an extremely demanding job and there are likely a lot of factors affecting how you feel about your job. Here are a few simple things you can do to regain a positive outlook on your job and learn to enjoy your career:
Consciously Adopt a Positive Attitude
It can be very difficult to maintain a positive attitude and it is made even harder if you let yourself be negative for long periods of time. To begin the shift from negative to positive, start with being conscious of your self-talk. Start repeating positive comments to yourself several times a day to help drown out negative thinking.
Having a positive attitude not only improves your mood, but it has health benefits as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, a positive attitude can have the following health benefits:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Get Plenty of Exercise
Law enforcement officers must be physically fit for their job performance. While being physically fit is important, exercising is about more than just being fit. Exercise helps to:
- Reduce stress
- Ward off anxiety and feelings of depression
- Boost self-esteem
- Improve sleep
- Strengthen your heart
- Increases energy levels
- Lower blood pressure
- Improves muscle tone and strength
- Strengthen and build bones
- Helps reduce body fat
- Makes you look fit and healthy
Set Progressive Goals
Sit down and brainstorm what you really want to achieve in your career, with your family, and in life in general. When brainstorming your goals, speak with your supervisor to get his or her input on your work goals to ensure they align with the department’s vision. In similar fashion, talk with your family members to get their input on your goals.
The outcome of your brainstorming session becomes your target and your primary objectives. Think about your goals in multiple stages and set micro-, midterm-, and long-term goals.
- Micro-goals are goals that you want to accomplish on a daily basis. These should help you accomplish your short-term goals, which ultimately help you achieve your long-term goals. Maybe you want to be promoted at work, so reading recent news articles, applying to college to get an advanced degree, or reading a book about taking the police advancement test would be supporting micro-goals.
- Midterm-goals are usually goals you want to achieve in one month to a year. Define the goal as well as what is to be accomplished. Be specific because general goals without a clear and concise timeframe and outcome are very difficult to achieve.
- Long-term goals usually require about five years to achieve. Again, these goals need to be specific to make sure you work toward them over time and know when you have accomplished them.
Adopting this type of goal-setting strategy is effective because it is the little accomplishments—the micro-goals—that help you build the momentum and self-confidence needed to achieve your short- and long-term goals. As you work toward your goals, be sure to visualize yourself accomplishing each one. A positive attitude will come naturally when you feel that you are on track to reach your goals..
One of the best ways I have found to reduce stress and keep a positive attitude is through meditation. Meditation involves sitting quietly or with calming music for a few minutes a day. As you meditate, let go of the negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts.
I started off with 5 to 10 minutes a day of sitting quietly and reflecting on my life and what I want out of it. I have increased my meditation time to about 30 minutes each morning, which gets me off to a great start. It is amazing how much my attitude has changed and how many positive ideas I have just from meditating very day.
One of the best ways to get started is to find an app on your phone that either plays calming music or features a voice walking you through the process. Whatever method you choose, the key is to get started.
I encourage every police officer to try these techniques. If you find something that works well for you, please comment on this post so we can all learn new strategies for being more positive in our jobs and lives. Such positivity leads to a better work environment, a closer family, and longevity.
About the Author: Matthew Loux has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and has a background in fraud, criminal investigation, as well as hospital, school, and network security. He has researched and studied law enforcement and security best practices for the past 10 years. He is a faculty member in the Criminal Justice program at American Military University.