Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Getting Motivated, Staying Motivated

Tomorrow, I'll be giving a talk to a large group of long-term unemployed professionals. My topic: getting and staying motivated.

Today, for many people, even many solid professionals, a job search has become a marathon. The willpower to stay that long course has become essential.

Whether or not you're looking for a job, perhaps you might appreciate seeing a draft of the handout I'll be distributing to them. Feedback welcome.

Getting and Staying Motivated

If you haven't already, redo your resume. Inventorying yourself usually increases your confidence.

Do it the fun, easy way. Is it more fun for you to network, e.g., always lunch with someone? Cold contact? Answer ads?

Try something new: For example, if networking events haven't worked for you, try a professional conference or trade show, especially the exhibitors. Or answer ads--but only if you can write a top-of-the-heap application.

Break it down into baby steps. Use the fundraising thermometer my wife used?

Choose a narrow focus and become expert at it. Remember my client who decided to specialize in software product management.

Commit publicly. Tell everyone you're looking. Your fear of embarrassment may motivate you.

Get confronted. I'm finding myself more motivated to lose weight since my doctor said, "You're not cosmetically fat but you're getting medically fat. Your BMI is 27."

Daily check-in, perhaps with a ProMatch colleague, perhaps using a reward and/or punishment for each daily goal. Or use

Establish a deadline. For example, wife said, "No job in six months? I'll take over your job search."

Volunteer or take a low-level job to put structure in your life, get you moving, and meet people. Particularly good are organizations in your field--that makes you more knowledgeable and connected.

Afraid of admitting you're looking for a job? Remember, today, so many are looking. Also, frame it as a positive: "This time, no settling. I'm going after what I really want (insert your target work.)

Afraid of sounding stupid? Practice, then start with your least desirable leads. And realize that with each subsequent contact, you get a fresh start.

Afraid of rejection? Successful people are rejected a lot. They learn from failures and move right on. No wallowing. And remember: being ignored is the new rejection. It's not that you're not worthy even of a rejection.

Afraid of imposing? You're asking for no more time than in asking for directions. If the person wants to give you more, that's his choice. Too, you're not asking for a handout; you're asking to work for fair pay.

Ambivalent about success? 1. Even bad people deserve a shot at redemption--honest work redeems. 2. If your success gets you more work, you can set limits. 3. Is it right to sabotage yourself because someone wishes you ill? Perhaps that person shouldn't be part of your life.

Find inspiration: a personal role model? A book? A quote? Religious faith? A famous person? Remember Churchill's so-frequent failures.

Make your job search not a choice. Simply force yourself to start working. No excuses. This is so basic, but for many people it's what most-often works. If necessary, just start with a one-second task. My father didn't think about whether it's pleasant--Snow or shine, he took a bus, two trains, and a six-block walk to open that miserable, little store every day.

One-minute struggle. If you haven't made progress over a stumbling block in a minute, you're unlikely to. You'll just get frustrated and be less likely to job-search. Get help or do it without solving the stumbling block.

Procrastination is a career killer. Remember: 80% of unemployed people say they're procrastinators versus 25% of employed professionals.

Stop abusing drugs/alcohol. Some people are helped by a 12-step programs, others by behavioral therapy, others by support from friend(s) and family.

Might you be clinically, not situationally, depressed or be bipolar? If so, exercise, music, and some cognitive-behavioral therapy, perhaps without drugs, may help. HERE is a link to solid information on depression. HERE is a link to solid information on bipolar disorder.

Might you have ADD/ADHD? If you're highly distractible, try eliminating distractions, and exercising. If that's insufficient, it might be worth asking a specialist if ADD medication is worth a try.

Embrace work. S/he who tries to accomplish as much as possible rather than as little as s/he can get away with is much more likely to stay employed, avoid depression, feel good about himself, and make a difference.

Remember my dad's story: Never look back. Always look forward.


F.S. said...

I'm not in a job-hunting situation (thank goodness) but I liked reading the whole list. I latched onto this point in particular:

"Afraid of sounding stupid? Practice, then start with your least desirable leads. And realize you get a fresh start with each subsequent contact."

Why I like it: so often we're tempted, even encouraged, to start with the most desirable job/employer and work downward. I think reframing it -- using less desirable leads as rehearsals -- is unconventional and powerful advice. Thanks!

Becky Washington said...

Check out trade associations, interest groups and groups on LinkedIn. Staying current with your industry helps you feel more connected and khowledgable.

Marty Nemko said...

Very helpful comment as usual, Becky.

Christopher Browning said...

Marty, there are too many good bits of advice here. Enough for several blog posts. Making a public commitment is a huge one for me. I don't like to look like I'm not following through on what I said I would. I want to think I can generate enough self-motivation I don't require an "external locus of control" to help me get the job done. Ah what big trap of pride that is.

Grace said...

Join/Create a job club. Meet with other unemployed, like-minded professionals on a regular basis to keep each other focused and accountable.

Resume Writer said...

Keeping your resume up to date is like a circular argument, but one that is up at a much more active level. By updating your resume, you motivate yourself to do better, to be better. By doing and being better, you open more doors where you might need your resume on a moment's notice. Because you might need your resume on a moment's notice, you should frequently update your resume. By updating your resume, you motivate yourself to do better, to be better....and we are in that cycle - a great cycle to be in.


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