Adopting a positive attitude, virtuous instead of vicious circles.

Organisation and time management

When you go through a difficult period, you may end up feeling tired and disillusioned. You don’t feel like getting behind the wheel of your car again. You prefer taking things easy and letting your mind wander. Then one day, you bravely announce, “Right, that’s it. I’m going to get on with it. Today I’m going to work all day!” But for some reason, it’s not long before you find yourself starting to doodle or rearranging your desk, getting distracted by the Internet or the television or inventing an excuse to call a friend.

If it helps you to feel more relaxed, set time aside for drawing, chatting with friends or sorting out your house. There are twenty four hours in a day. There are certain times of day when you are more efficient, can understand things easily, assimilate information quickly, analyse, summarise… Make sure you deal with priority tasks at these times.

There are also periods when you are less efficient, less “profitable”. Save these for having fun or resting.

What do these expressions mean?

In everyday language, a virtuous circle is a cause and effect relationship which forms a loop, improving your current situation. For example, if you can build up your self-confidence, you have more chance of succeeding, and being successful will make you feel more confident. A vicious circle is quite the opposite. It is like the so-called “snowball effect”. Your current situation gets worse as a result of aseries of negative factors.

Looking for your first job can be a vicious circle. “Companies want to hire someone with experience, but I have never had a job before. How can I become more experienced if nobody will hire me?” However, it is possible to turn a vicious circle into a virtuous one:

  • by making negative things positive
  • by focusing on what is “good”.

Let us take another look at the example of looking for your first job:

“It’s true that I’ve never had a job before, and I can’t claim to have years of experience in the industry. BUT I am motivated. I learn fast. I am young and have lots of positive arguments in my favour: enthusiasm, energy, adaptability… And although I haven’t got the precise experience the company is asking for, I do have other experience! On my CV I have listed various periods of work experience in centres for handicapped children, in clothes shops, in a museum… Can’t I make these periods count for something?”

Here is another example.

You get up in a bad mood one day. You leave the house in such a rush that you bump into an old lady outside. She cries out after you, but you haven’t got time to apolo- gise. You need to catch your bus… quickly, here it comes! You push in front of other people to make sure you get to the stop in time. Everyone looks at you crossly and complains. Once you are sitting on the bus, you reflect on how aggressive everyone is being this morning!

Let us imagine how you could turn the situation around. You get up in a good mood. As you set off from home, you smile at an old lady who is having trouble walking by herself. You offer to help her cross the road. On the bus, you give up your seat to a young Mum struggling with a pushchair and a little boy hanging onto her arm… And we could go on and on. In the first case, you are in a vicious circle, and everything is going wrong. In contrast, the second situation is a virtuous circle.

What can you do about vicious circles?

When it comes to your career, vicious circles are often “triggered” by a lack of self-confidence. You aren’t sure of yourself and think you won’t get very far because you are useless at everything… Or perhaps you think things are going quite well. You are achieving good results, but your team or hierarchical superior don’t seem to agree- maybe bullying by a “blond bitch” or “sleazy Italian”!

Despite your own convictions, it is hard for you to carry on without the approval of your colleagues. You find yourself in a vicious circle. Nothing is going right and things can only get worse. It may be time to leave.


Let us hear what Flora has to say:



“While I was working for an international organisation, I was sent abroad to a country at war. The living conditions were very difficult. I had to stay there for several years. When I came home again, people didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I didn’t get my old job back. I decided to leave the company voluntarily rather than being gradually excluded, as my career seemed to have ground to a halt.

A few months later, I heard that my former employer had hired the wives of several of my former colleagues to take on jobs similar to my old one. That made me angry. Why them and not me? Am I so bad at what I do? Am I really that incompetent? It is true that when I came home, I had a few psychological problems. I must have seemed fragile and vulnerable. People must have felt that they couldn’t rely on me. Now I realise that I let my own problems take hold. I couldn’t stand back and react calmly. I even managed to convince myself that the other women had been recruited at my expense… I couldn’t imagine that it was because they had the necessary qualities to succeed in the job.

I was trapped by feelings of resentment, anger and fragility. I couldn’t escape from the vicious circle and start looking for a new job. I was unable to see that I COULD NOT do the work given to the wives of my former colleagues.”

Positive psychology teaches us about gratitude and letting go. These attitudes often represent a further step along the path towards virtue.