Sital Ruparelia (pictured), author of this guest post, is a widely respected London-based career coach. This post appeared on Sital's blog in September 2010, but we feel the message is timeless.
We all know that being mentally strong and emotionally fit is crucial in life, whether it's for business, sports, or your career. But how do you stay positive when going through a long, challenging job search?
Here are 10 tips that may help:
1. Give yourself permission to be "all over the place."
Being emotionally up and down is perfectly normal when going through a career transition or any major change process. Allow yourself to have a "bad day" or even the occasional "bad week." (But use the tips below to avoid going into a downward spiral.)
2. Do some exercise.
Any form of physical exercise or relaxation technique gives you an immediate shot of endorphins (the so-called "happy hormones"). It doesn't matter what it is—a 20-minute walk, a quick run, a game of tennis, some yoga, or simply 60 seconds of deep breathing. Try and do something on a regular basis.
3. Control those 'voices.'
There's a constant dialogue underway in our heads (You idiot, You should have done xyz, Why didn't you say abc? You need to be more confident, Why are you so lazy?). Yet if someone else walked up to you and said these things to your face, you'd be hugely offended. Start taking control of the voices, and instead…
4. Ask yourself better questions.
What went well today? What are the three best things I did in that interview? What lessons can I learn from that conversation? What are my top five achievements this week? What step can I take today to help me move forward? All these questions shift your mindset and your emotions, and so encourage you to take the right actions.
5. Don't stress about stuff you can't control.
I can't control the weather—so I don't worry or complain about it. But I can influence how the weather impacts me by watching the weather forecasts or carrying an umbrella. Similarly, you can't control the economy or the job market, so focus your mental energy and time on things you can control or influence.
6. Reduce your consumption of mainstream press and media.
"Bad news sells," as they say. You need to be informed about the marketplace and the world, but you don't need to listen to the same story about "the worst job market in 20 years" over and over again. Overloading yourself with bad news simply makes you more anxious and fearful.
7. Minimize your exposure to "BMWs."
BMWs = Bitchers, Moaners, and Whiners! When you're a little fragile emotionally, such negativity will be poisonous to you and your job search. So reduce your exposure to negative people, while increasing your exposure to people who energize you. And don't be a BMW yourself (see #3)!
8. Celebrate the small successes.
You need to pat yourself on the back with every small success. Focusing on the small wins gives you the energy and confidence to tackle the bigger challenges that you know still lie ahead.
9. Count your blessings.
There are 6.8 billion people living on this planet. And I'm pretty confident that most people reading this article are likely to be in the top 5% of that population in terms of material wealth, health, living conditions, opportunities, and education. There are many people who would love to be in your shoes and have the 'problems' you've got. So try to keep a perspective on things.
10. Print this article.
You may be inspired and encouraged by reading these tips, but in a few hours you'll forget. So print this page and put it in a place where you will see it frequently—on your desk, in your wallet, or even saved as an icon on your computer or smart phone.
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