I have a friend who uses the phrase “Make good choices” when she sends her young 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 see this episode of ‘What Not to Wear’ before…” The truth is that you have the power to decide what your day will be like and how productive you’ll be.
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 choose to 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 locating and reading books on interviewing techniques, connecting with people in my network for coffee and advice, or following up 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 several lists of 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 organizing your files. Your lists might even include tasks that don’t relate to your job search, like organizing or repairing things at home. If you’re feeling energetic and upbeat, put off the research and start calling people.
We meet 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 and that you’ve taken a step (or two) toward getting your next job.