One of the things I was most surprised by when I got into the jobs business over a decade ago was the prevalence and practice of age discrimination in hiring right here in the USA. Oh, sure... we're not like some overseas markets where job ads explicitly demand youth, or a particular gender, or beauty(!), in the applicant, but there it is...
Deep Recession. Financial Industry Collapse. Taxpayer-financed Bailout. Consumer Spending Down. Nine Months of Job Losses. Worst Financial Outlook since the Great Depression.
Even the most positive among us might feel deflated by the current newspaper headlines. With all the talk about the challenging economy, the failure of financial institutions like Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers and the multi-billion dollar financial services industry bailout, it would be easy – even for an optimist like me – to get caught up in the doom and gloom. But negativity is really a state of mind and it is counter-productive, especially if you are a job seeker. It’s all a matter of perspective. As you’ve likely heard, Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Here is the first installment of three articles focused on the positive. Through these words, I share with you essential mindset shifts that will help you put on the rose-colored glasses and see through the ubiquitous negativity so you can be successful in your job search.
Re-live past wins.
One way to keep negative thoughts away is to fill your mind with memories of past successes. When you remind yourself of how you rose above a challenge to accomplish something impressive, you have no room in your mind for negative or counter-productive thoughts. Make a list of all your accomplishments – large and small – so when you catch your mind wandering into downer territory you will have visual reminders of what you have achieved.
One of my clients made a screen-saver with keywords relating to some of his greatest accomplishments. After ten minutes of computer inactivity, reminders of what makes him incredible scroll across the screen. He told me that every time he would glance at his computer and see one of those words or phrases, it would make him smile.
Consider the words from Helen Keller: “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” And ask yourself, “What is my greatest success story?”
If you can’t get out of it, get into it.
My friend Todd Wetmore said this to me once and I have never forgotten it: Every time I hear myself saying “I have to …” I change “I have to …” into “I am looking forward to …” To me, this means finding a way to make every situation an opportunity for enjoyment or growth.
I recently “had to” travel to the middle of nowhere (really the middle of nowhere – no cell-phone service and the address of the hotel was not even in the GPS system of my rental car). to deliver a personal branding presentation and workshop. Being the most urban person I know, I was less than thrilled about driving three hours to a place without people, traffic or noise! In fact, I was dreading it. And then I reminded myself that this was going to be a totally new experience for me. I focused my energy on the excitement of working with a new client – Johnson & Johnson – for the first time. I changed “I have to go to the middle of nowhere” to “I am really looking forward to getting to know this new client.” It made the journey from Manhattan to nowhere much more pleasant. Mark Twain was right when he said, “Optimist: A person who travels on nothing from nowhere to happiness.”
What are you looking forward to this week?
Visualize what you want
That which you focus on expands. Certainly this is why Peace Pilgrim hypothesized, “If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.”
Although it may be easy to lament the tribulations of getting no response to dozens of submitted resumes or the miserable interview experience you had, thinking about how hard it is to find the ideal job will prove you right. It will be difficult. Frustrating. Painful. You will feel the impact of every rejected resume, excruciating interview, or phone call saying they selected someone else. Instead, you must keep the future in your mind. Visualize yourself at your new job. Know what it looks like, feels like and smells like. Make it visceral; keeping the end in mind will help you navigate the job search process with ease and fortitude.
What does it look like at your new office? Give yourself some time each day to daydream. Get comfortable, take some deep breaths and concentrate on your future – your new job. What will you be doing? How will you spend your time each day? With whom will you be working? How will you contribute to your team? The clearer the picture becomes, the easier it will be for you to stay focused on future.