When you’re on the job hunt or navigating the upward trajectory of your career, sometimes you just need a little pep talk. It can be awkward at times to ask family and friends for advice when you feel stuck or lost, but you desperately need a little guidance. Here are four self-affirming mind hacks to help you succeed.
It’s natural to look at other people’s successes and measure against them. It’s also extremely mentally unhealthy to do this. You’re using the completely wrong benchmark. It’s an illusionary standard, as you don’t know that person’s full story. Maybe they got a head start in their career through an influential family member who pulled some strings. The person could be seen as outwardly successful, but feels terrible on the inside. The only true way to judge growth is to think of who you were yesterday and how you improved upon it today.
As it relates to the job search, a person could have lucked out and been in the right place at the right time and gotten the big career break. Their area of expertise may be in more demand than yours. It’s not worth spending precious time concerned with other people’s accomplishments.
Ignore everyone else. Wear blinders and hyperfocus on your own crowning achievements. Each day, attempt to become better at what you do. At night, contemplate if you’ve improved and made strides from the day before.
If you are searching for a job, benchmark what great steps you took today that improved your chances of finding a fantastic new position compared to the actions taken yesterday. When you want a promotion, raise or new responsibilities, compare what you did today to attain these goals—relative to yesterday’s efforts.
When you are going through the interview process or trying to progress in your career, it’s easy to feel that you’re being picked on, singled out or bullied. You start thinking that people have it out for you. You wonder if maybe they didn’t select you because of nonbusiness-related matters. Perhaps, you believe, a former boss or co-worker badmouthed you to the prospective new employer.
Hanlon’s razor asserts that we tend to attribute malice and ill intent by others when there is a simpler reason why things happen to you. In reality, people can be jerks, rude, inconsiderate, petty and nasty and not even realize that they’re doing this. They act like this to everyone and not just you.
It’s commonplace for bosses to say inappropriate things without thinking about its impact on the employee. An interviewer could have had a spat with their spouse and taken out their frustration on you just because you’re sitting there right in front of them. Although people feel that it’s only happening to them personally, we all experience the brunt of managers, colleagues, clients and business associates being nasty. The next time someone says something mean-spirited to you, the chances are that they are the problem and not you. So, don’t take it personally.
We keep dredging up bad memories. We think of all the times we failed or things didn’t go our way. When you’re interviewing or trying to get a promotion, all of the bad stuff from the past bubbles up. It takes over your mind. Instead of being positive about getting the job, you dwell on all of the negatives and what can go wrong. With that mindset, it probably will go wrong. Be positive instead. Try this for at least one full day. Anything that happens to you, think of a positive connection to it. When you drop your ice cream cone on the floor, say to yourself, “That’s for the best. I’m trying to lose weight and shouldn’t have bought the ice cream in the first place.”
When you go into your bosses office seeking a plum new assignment, tell yourself it’s going to happen. Use language that shows it’s already a done deal “When I’m in the role, I’ll do X, Y and Z. Would I report to you for this or will I be working with someone else?”
If you’re interviewing, keep in mind all of your past glowing achievements and successes. Play them over again on loop, like a movie in your mind. Block out all of the past problems and keep thinking about all of the wonderful things you’ve accomplished—no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. Build up all of those victories into a mountain. When you go into the hiring manager or boss’ office, remind yourself that you’ve experienced successes in the past and will do so once again.
We tend to put off the things that we don’t want to do or are too difficult. As the day progresses, the tasks start weighing heavily upon you. It gnaws and eats away at you, as you know eventually you have to confront the dreaded task. The project hangs over your head, like a dark, foreboding cloud. The easy antidote is to just do it first thing in the morning. Get it out of the way, so it frees up your mind for other important matters.
For instance, if you are searching for a job, you may hate the idea of networking or marketing yourself on LinkedIn. All day long, you will be upset for not taking any actions. It will ruin your mood. Others will notice that you’re irritable. You’ll start creating a problem that didn’t exist.
The key is to make the phone call to a former colleague who now works at the company you sent an application to. Ask them to put in a good word. You’ll feel so much better after you’ve done it. The same holds true for marketing on LinkedIn. I get that you’re shy and worried that you may embarrass yourself by possibly saying something dopey. Take the chance. Write a post. Best case is that it gets noticed and you may get a job lead or the attention of a top recruiter. Worst case is that nobody comments on it. No big deal. Now that you’ve done it, you feel better and move on to things that you like and want to do.