Mentally telling yourself "I think I can, I think I can" just might give you the motivation you need to create a plan of action to accomplish your career dreams.

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You glance up at the clock on the wall. It’s 3:30 p.m., and your deadline is quickly approaching. You take a deep breath and exhale slowly, moving your head from side to side and relaxing your shoulders. “I can do this,” you mentally tell yourself several times as you work to finalize the financial analysis assigned by your boss.

That little voice in our heads we hear throughout each day is known as self-talk. This internal voice can be positive or negative, and it can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, people often ask me for advice on how to get a raise or a promotion at work. Those with a positive attitude — that they are worthy of a higher salary or a promotion — are much more likely to accomplish their goal, because their self-talk is positive. Their internal discussions reinforce their belief that they can figure out a way to make it happen; thus it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And their outlook on life tends to be optimistic.

On the flip side, those who have a negative attitude — they doubt they will ever get a raise or promotion, and then they proceed to list all the reasons why they don’t believe it will happen — are engaging in negative self-talk.

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This type of internal negativity can end up surrounding people to such an extent that they become demotivated and don’t want to go through the steps necessary to map out an action plan to accomplish their goal. These are usually the people who won’t end up getting that coveted raise or promotion — and whose outlook on life tends to be pessimistic.

This is mainly because negative self-talk gives people a reason to cut themselves slack, to be off the hook for their behavior and thus for the outcomes. How many times have you heard someone say something like, “Oh, I’m not even going to apply for the job, because they’ll just give it to John anyway and tell me I’m not qualified”?

Like in the children’s book The Little Engine That Could, maybe it’s about time to give yourself some encouraging words. Mentally telling yourself “I think I can, I think I can” just might give you the motivation you need to create a plan of action to accomplish your career dreams.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.