Before I start, let me be completely transparent- I do NOT have it all together. I feel overwhelmed and behind sometimes (many times.) And, I know I’m not alone – by far!
Also, let me give you kudos for taking on change. While I am sure there will be a great payoff for your efforts, in the meantime it can be quite scary. Our brain doesn’t like change. It tries to protect us with stress responses. This physiologically can limit our brain’s ability to handle stress we’d otherwise feel completely capable of handling, but you are growing and developing. It will feel like quite the bumpy ride until you adjust and form new habits to support new activity.
Just stay mindful – allow the stress. Welcome it, even. Dare I say be grateful for it. Forgive yourself for things that slip through the cracks. You’re learning to handle more, new things. You will find a rhythm as long as you can override your brain’s resistance and follow the tips I share here.
We all know by now that self-care is critical. That being said, we need support in doing so. I can’t just run off to the spa. Someone has to get done what I’d normally be getting done, like picking up the kids, or whatever (I’m getting overwhelmed just thinking about it.)
Also, I’m self-employed, so technically I make my own schedule. However, that gives other people the illusion that I have more time, when really what it means that ANY time I am not working, I am missing earning opportunities, and money goes out the door. I am the only person who can create and enforce boundaries around my time, so I have to do just that. Sometimes I have to say no to things that I really want to do. It took some practice saying no to things I felt I “had to do.” If you’re an obliger, a la Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies, this is definitely against your nature, but necessary to avoid burnout.
ASK FOR/ACCEPT SUPPORT
Sometimes I feel as though people think I should be giving more support to them, so I don’t ask for it as often as I really need it, and by the time I do, I am in bad shape. It’s a cycle I recognize and am trying to break. I have to love myself through that. I’m also trying to stop martyring myself for the things I take on while silently overwhelmed. It’s my own standard for myself that causes such inner conflict.
If any of this martyring or self-neglect sounds familiar to you, quit it. Maybe like me, you learned somewhere that it was wrong to ask for help. I heard someone call this “rugged individualism” in a MindValley masterclass last week. She was referring to a value growing in popularity in America that is causing increasing loneliness at epidemic levels. Vishen Lakhiani, MindValley’s founder, reported, and research supports, that loneliness has been found to be more lethal than 15 cigarettes a day. According to studies it contributes to suicide, which seems pretty common sense. But did you know that it’s also linked to Alzheimer’s disease, immune and cardio-vascular deficiencies, and neuroendocrine changes?
Perhaps we need to be better at reaching out for help, and perhaps if we receive more help we’ll feel more capable and willing to give help to others. What I have experienced is that too many of us feel incapable of handling helping others because we don’t feel supported. So, people you ask may not give you support for this reason. And you may feel hesitant to ask someone you feel is overwhelmed themselves. Getting a no might feel worse than trying to cope on your own. If your mental state is already fragile, it can be hard to not make that “no” mean something about you – you’re unworthy, unlikeable, doomed, etc.
Somehow, this cycle has to break. Go about asking for support with the expectation that you might get 1 yes for every 10 nos, and it has nothing to do with you. Everyone is fighting a battle you can’t see. Vow to be supportive of others once you get yourself stabilized and follow through.
MAKE TIME FOR REFLECTION/MINDFULNESS
I have become aware of my tendencies through reflection, journaling, meditation, and personal development immersion. However, the awareness at first is painful. Again, I have to allow that pain and be grateful for it because it means I am growing. I don’t always have time for this reflection. That, I feel, is the biggest danger in society today. So many of us are too busy to consider how we can respond better to stress, conflict, etc., so we defend our actions and opinions fiercely. This stifles our emotional intelligence and leads to continued conflict.
I know – on top of making time for job search activities I’m also suggesting that you make time for reflection and emotional health. That might seem like a bit much, but if you are going to expand your capacity to do anything, you have to mind your mind. Going through the motions of your job search activities and a campaign is a surefire way to get mediocre results and prolong landing. So much of your success depends on the impression that you give other people. You have to be “on” most of the time.
Facing some disappointments isn’t necessarily inevitable, but it is to be expected. Mindfulness promotes resilience so that you can bounce back sooner, and reflecting will help you recognize how you can perform better next time.
Besides just making sure that you are mentally, physically, and emotionally rested to handle the added stress, you can also level up your capacity by mastering flow. Flow is a word that describes a heightened state of mind that occurs when you are fully immersed in an activity and your skills express themselves subconsciously, without conscious effort. What neuroscience has taught us is that we can recreate this state of mind, which we normally experience with activities that we enjoy deeply, to tackle more challenges with ease. Perhaps it doesn’t seem like the time to take on learning a whole different skill set. That might be true. It could also be true, however, that if you invest time in the front end learning and applying a fraction of the practical science of flow that your job search will be accelerated and help you land an even more ideal scenario. Is it smarter to use your time to start whacking away at the tree you want felled, or is it smarter to sharpen the ax first? Is it smarter to plan ahead to where you want the tree to go and make precise cuts to direct the tree where it’s safe to land? Which brings me to my next tip:
KNOW YOUR TARGET
Even if you’re desperate to land quickly and even if you think that any situation is better than the one you’re in, I’ve witnessed too many hasty, but “successful” searches result in a cascade of even worse scenarios. Don’t assume that you can’t afford to be picky; you can’t afford to NOT be picky! Don’t assume that you’ll land faster if you set your goals lower. As good as you think you can fake being motivated, most employers see past this, and they’ll look right past you to candidates who aren’t at risk of disengagement. You’re more likely to land a job that excites you, and good employers want to give employees opportunities to grow and expand.
Your brain knows better, and you need to leverage every brain hack known today to keep up your motivation to face challenges. That requires having a goal that excites you. Even if you achieve 80% of your ideal scenario, you’ll enjoy a much better outcome than targeting only what you think is achievable. Challenge yourself on this. Assuming what’s easy is best is just your brain protecting you from scary change. You can handle it!
HABITS and BELIEFS – OUT WITH THE OLD; IN WITH THE NEW
Mindfulness usually leads us to make new discoveries about why we have fallen short of our goals in the past, and in most cases, it’s 1 of 2 things: Habits or beliefs. Both of these either takes discipline to change, or hypnosis to change – your choice. Hypnosis is safe (though vastly misunderstood) and quick. Discipline takes longer, but proving you have discipline can help you unlock greater confidence. Just don’t conclude that you can’t achieve something because you fell short in discipline. Hypnosis is still an option. So many people turn to hypnosis as a last resort only to wish they’d done it sooner.
There are a ton of devices and apps available to keep you reminded and on track if you choose discipline.
Of course, you may also want to engage a partner who will help you make sure the time you have to invest in your job search is invested in the wisest most results-producing resources and activities, who will offer emotional support and help you find other kinds of support, and who is experienced, trained and certified in modalities that support habit development. (Wink, wink 😉
Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play.
While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales.
Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot.
She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.