5 Steps to Success
A little over 6 months ago I started to blog with the sole intention of motivating job seekers in these challenging times. I came up with 5 tools, one for each day of the “work” week, and I simply post quotes that relate to those tools, and then expound a bit. A funny thing happened. The comments I started to receive on the blog, on my Facebook Fan Page, and on Twitter were more often from small business owners and solopreneurs then they were from job seekers. I realized, quite accidentally, that the exact same tools I was writing about to help job seekers stay the course, were necessary tools for anyone to succeed in these times. I’d like to share them with you. Understand that these are not “new” tools; their messages will not be astounding. That being said, it seems that we can all use a reminder periodically. As we enter into a New Year (and enter into a new Decade!!), I can’t think of a better time to recount the things that will help us all operate at our absolute best.
I believe that one can only do one’s best, when properly prepared. This preparation may include setting up a space to work that is organized, clean and encourages concentration. It may include setting out time for certain tasks and planning your calendar. It may be planning your day down to the last detail. Yet, I think it’s also important to remember that there is only so much we can do to control the outcome of our events. We can plan, prepare, set goals, and even set expectations. We can research, do due diligence, practice, role play, and be as prepared as humanly possible, and while that’s all important, useful and in fact necessary, it doesn’t always help. And, there’s a fine line between being prepared and over-thinking, (a.k.a. over-stressing) about all the possible outcomes and how you can direct them. Sometimes you just have to let things happen and see how they turn out. I don’t prepare for the worst, because I don’t even want to put that out there – but as long as I believe that things happen for a reason, I’m ok. And, while I may never understand what that reason is, I do believe it is always for the best. One of my favorite “preparation” quotes is, “It pays to plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” (Author Unknown) I wish you all the power of a plan.
So, you’re prepared for anything. Great! You’ve set up your workspace effectively and you’ve minimized the risk for distraction. You’ve planned your schedule for the week. You know what you need to do. Now, you need to focus; stay on track. Razor sharp, laser-like focus is required, especially when you’re down, stressed out, overwhelmed, or otherwise preoccupied. Focus. Focus on one thing at a time. Choose the task; accomplish the task; move on to the next task. Make sure the tasks will help you accomplish your goals and take you to the next level. And follow through. Do what you said you were going to do; be accountable for your actions; be proactive; take control of the conversation. Too many opportunities are lost from a lack of follow-through. Use a calendar; tie a string around your finger; set an alarm or a task reminder; whatever it takes… You can have the best of intentions, be extremely well prepared, and have great focus, but if you don’t follow up, you’ll blow it. A subtle shift in where you put your efforts is sometimes all you need. Focusing on solving problems is still focusing on the problem, so I suggest changing the way you look at this altogether. I prefer to focus on the possibilities. A great quote, “Only one thing has to change for us to know happiness in our lives: where we focus our attention.” (Greg Anderson)
I’d like to add that it also matters HOW we focus our attention. Staying focused on the job hunt (or any work for that matter) amid all the distraction can actually be more difficult than it seems. For example, it often happens that I launch my browser to search for a quote for my blog posts, and I get sucked into Facebook instead… Social Media has changed the way many of us work, communicate, research, and play. It is the blurry line between wasting time and being productive that has caused much ado. But it’s not much ado about nothing. We need to stay focused on the job at hand, set time aside for each task, including the task of applying social media, and stay on track. LinkedIn, Twitter, even Facebook, can all be very useful in our work lives, but we need to use them appropriately. They should be just one tool on your tool belt and not replace face-to-face interaction and networking! But that’s another post…
We are in control of how we look at things. My dad frequently reminds me that while we can’t always control our circumstances, we certainly have control over how we think about our circumstances. I love that. The tone for my day used to be “set” when I rolled out of bed in the morning, unless of course, something drastic happened to alter that tone… but it was “set” by external conditions. And it wasn’t always positive. Once I recognized that I could change my attitude, I invented an alter-ego, “the new me”. Now, whenever I wake up cranky, or if something happens during the day that causes me angst, I remind myself to find “the new me”, and “fake it until I make it.” When my day is daunting, and lately that’s been happening a lot, I tend to panic. So, when I saw this quote, I actually printed it out in LARGE letters, and taped it to my computer for a constant reminder. “It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” (William James)
Goal setting can be overwhelming. Where do you start? Do you have a goal for the day? For the week? For the year? For the next ten years? This topic reminds me of a chapter in “Alice in Wonderland” when Alice is asking the Cheshire Cat for directions…
“Which road do I take?” (Alice)
“Where do you want to go?” (Cat)
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then, said the cat, it doesn’t matter.”
I believe that goal setting, including setting small, achievable daily goals, helps us to stay on track, and maybe even more importantly, gives us the opportunity to celebrate small successes. Accomplishments feel good, even when they’re small, and we can’t let ourselves get so bogged down that we forget to celebrate them. I often write about creating a journal or scrapbook based on your goals and desires. I believe that being able to visualize the achievement of your goals is half the battle. If you write down what you want, you have the start of your plan, and the basis for your goal-setting. If there are words that inspire you, write them down. If there are affirmations or quotes, or stories, put them in. Make it yours; own it. Then make it real. Stephen Covey said that he is convinced that we can write and live our own scripts more than most people acknowledge. I do believe we create our own destiny, and we have the power to fulfill our dreams.
Staying motivated, and letting that motivation carry you, or better yet, propel you forward, is a good thing. Remember those small successes? Celebrating them really helps me stay motivated. Success begets success. Not succeeding, however, can also be a strong motivator. While I firmly believe that I am exactly where I should be today… that does not mean at all that it is where I want to be tomorrow. And, I am responsible for my own future. Hold yourself accountable, or find someone to help hold you accountable, and go after what you want. You can get there if you believe you can get there. As the wise Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Your circumstances don’t define you. Be who you are and believe in who you can become.
About the author:
Jennifer is a talent acquisition strategist and career coach with over 16 years of recruiting experience and a passion for networking and social media marketing.
As a strategist she creates innovative recruitment processes which support the ever-evolving needs of her clients, and acts as a trusted consultant to help them achieve their recruitment and retention goals. She has proven success in sourcing across multiple functions at any level in an organization, developing a consistent candidate pipeline, creating a positive candidate experience, and increasing employee engagement through inspiring orientation and onboarding programs. As a coach Jennifer offers tactical approaches to the job search process in all of her one-to-one sessions and workshops. With the ability to reverse-engineer the recruiting process for those in transition, she inspires people to take action in their career campaign.
In addition to continuously building her recruitment consulting practice, Jennifer is a Career Coach in partnership with Hire Aspirations, the Strategic Partnership Advisor and Networking Leader of Whine and Dine LLC, a social networking group for HR professionals, and a member of the Program Committee for the Southern Connecticut chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Jennifer is also the moderator for CT-Moms, the largest and most active networking group for mothers in Fairfield County, CT.
By Noel Cocca
CEO/Founder RecruitingDaily and avid skier, coach and avid father of two trying to keep up with my altruistic wife. Producing at the sweet spot talent acquisition to create great content for the living breathing human beings in recruiting and hiring. I try to ease the biggest to smallest problems from start-ups to enterprise. Founder of RecruitingDaily and our merry band of rabble-rousers.
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