I have a friend who uses the phrase “Make good choices” when she send her son off to school. It’s her way of reminding him that what happens to him during his day is, in large part, within his control. He can choose to work hard in class or to slack off; he can choose to hang out with troublemakers or people who don’t get into mischief. She’s working hard on helping him think through his options and not simply react to the situations he faces each day.
As a jobseeker in transition, you have the same opportunity to make choices every day. It can be tempting to believe that your job search is being driven by external factors. “It’s raining hard today, so it will be a nightmare to drive to that workshop.” “I’m just not feeling well enough to make those phone calls.” “I’ve never seen this episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ before…” You have the power to decide what your day will be like and how productive you’ll be. Your choices matter.
Sometimes, the secret to making good choices is having more than one option to select from. If your only choice is between doing [that thing you don’t feel motivated about] and doing nothing – you may choose nothing.
Here’s an idea: make several lists of things you can do today for your job search. Some lists will consist of things that are easy to do, take little time, or might even be fun. For me, those would include following and reading posts from thought leaders in my field, connecting with people in my network for coffee and advice, or following up meetings with thank you letters. Lists of things that are important, but not much fun for me include applying online for positions and calling people I don’t know to ask for meetings.
If you have list of options for tasks, you can make good choices. If you don’t feel up to meeting people, you can do some of the research items on your list or spend time updating your online profiles. Your lists might even include tasks that don’t relate to your job search, like organizing or repairing things at home. Or doing a strenuous workout. If you’re feeling energetic and social, put off the research and start calling people.
I’ve met too many jobseekers who simply let days slip away without meaningful activity that advances their job search. Making good choices means that you get a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day because you’ve taken a step (or two) toward getting your next job.