Cultivate Your Can-Do Attitude

People who have a can-do attitude are ready to tackle any challenge that comes their way, no matter how big

May 11 · 5 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

When we look to people we admire, we can recognize that they probably didn’t start this way. They had a base skillset and way of being, bu then they worked hard and adopted a can-do attitude to become who they are today.

The new Michael Jordan documentary is a great reminder of this.

Michael Jordan is widely thought to be the greatest basketball player of all time. Watching the documentary, you can see that he became great because he believed in himself. He dedicated himself to improving his game, on and off the court. He brought total focus to every practice and workout.

Michael Jordan’s unwavering can-do attitude and discipline propelled him from being great at basketball to the greatest of all time.

So what can you do to cultivate your can-do attitude, both on and off the court?

Uplift Yourself With Gratitude.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Ergita Sela on Unsplash

When things get challenging, it’s easy to become negative and lose sight of your can-do attitude. Gratitude grounds you in what’s important and boosts your energy.

A research study by psychologists from the University of California, Davis, and the University of Miami, found that people who regularly write down things that they’re grateful for are more optimistic, feel better about their lives, and even exercise more.

Gratitude is a great way to cultivate an optimistic can-do attitude. You can practice gratitude in your thoughts, writing, or conversations.

Take Breaks

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Sean O. on Unsplash

Your can-do attitude is something you want to cultivate as a life-long mindset. To be sustainable, it’s important that you take breaks — time you can take to relax and step back.

In the Undoing Project, Michael Lewis relates how two renowned psychologists made a discovery over how the human mind works. One of the psychologists, Amos Tversky, said, “You waste years by not being able to waste hours.” By taking a step back, you can see what’s important and feel refreshed for any task you want to take on.

Break Down Overwhelming Tasks

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by James Donovan on Unsplash

Often when you dread starting a task it’s because it’s too big. The first step to breaking down a task is a braindump. In the braindump phase, you write down everything that might be relevant to the task. Let your ideas flow completely unedited.

Andrew Stanton is a writer. He worked on many Pixar hits, including Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo. He says,

The first pass at anything is always going to be a confusing mess.

The braindump is a pressure-free way to start understanding what’s required of a task. It’s supposed to be messy and fast.

For example, suppose I’m going to bake sourdough bread for the first time. I might start with the following braindump:

Image for post
Image for post
Braindump on how to bake sourdough.

Once you get everything down, choose one point from the list. See if you can write a small, actionable task from this point. If not, do another braindump on that one piece.

In the sourdough example, “Buy flour” is actionable, but “Make starter” still has a lot of unknowns. We can do another braindump.

Image for post
Image for post
Braindump on how to make sourdough starter.

When tasks are small enough, you’ll be able to write them down with specific verbs.

For example, the task “Make sourdough” uses the broad verb “Make.” It’s too big. A more actionable and smaller piece of this task is “Mix together wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and water in a mason jar.”

Image for post
Image for post
Smaller tasks for making sourdough starter.

Small, specific tasks are approachable; they help you build momentum. This strengthens your can-do attitude.

Celebrate Small Wins

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Don’t be afraid to be proud of yourself. You’re doing great things, every day — cheer yourself on!

At Bytebase, we thow a “reveal party” for every feature we ship. At the reveal party, the builder plays the first 30 seconds of a high-energy song (e.g. Baba O’Riley), then they reveal the feature. No matter how big or small, we celebrate the win of shipping code as a team.

Everyone has small daily wins that they can celebrate. Regular celebrations strengthen your momentum and can-do attitude.

Be Clear on Your Motivation

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

No matter what you’re trying to do, be clear on your motivation:

  • Why are you doing what you’re doing?
  • Are you working towards a broader goal?
  • Does this work help you become the person you want to be?
  • Does it help your loved ones?

Understanding your motivation is especially important for larger tasks when things might get tough. By reinforcing why you’re working on what you’re doing, it’s easier to push through.

Enjoy What You Do

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Lili Popper on Unsplash

By nurturing your can-do attitude you not only stay on track with your goals but enjoy the journey as well. Tasks that seem dreadful and intimidating become simple and actionable. You can spend less time feeling blocked or overwhelmed and more time in flow.

Thanks for reading!

Bytebase is note-taking tool that helps you nurture your can-do attitude by making braindumps easy. Request early access at

Better Programming

Advice for programmers.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store