One of our company divisions recently sponsored a Fitbit competition. Is there any correlation between challenging ourselves physically and the mental stamina it takes to find a new job? One of the challenge participants shares lessons learned and tips to help you on your own job search journey.
1) Don’t underestimate yourself
Our thoughts can often limit our behaviors. When I first started the challenge, I had my doubts on how I would do. While I am competitive (for some things), I’m also realistic. I have a sedentary desk job. How was I going to increase my activity enough to counteract that? How was I going to compete against other employees who had more active construction jobs at my company? The same self limiting thoughts may occur to you when you embark on a job search. How long is this going to take? How can I compete against others with more experience or a better background?
Here’s the thing – there will always be people with more experience, better odds and more advantages in the game – whether it’s for a contest or a job. You can’t sell yourself short before the challenge or job search journey begins. You just have to start.
2) Silence your inner critic
Are you guilty of negative self talk? It’s hard to break the self destructive habit of thinking of everything that could go wrong. In a job search or interview situation, this can destroy your confidence. You can’t let the critic win! Even silly visuals like imagining a stop sign when that bad chatter comes into your head can help. A motto, mantra or inspirational quote can also be helpful. I constantly told myself to “just keep going.”
3) Stop comparing yourself to others
This one is hard. Fitbit has an online leaderboard where you can see how you rank on a daily and weekly basis. It’s fine to know where other people stand, but it can also make you crazy. In the job search, there are obviously other people interviewing. You can’t change that reality, but you can prepare yourself to do the best you can. Spend extra time researching the company, revising your resume and practicing your interview skills.
My strategy was to increase my activity and duration weekly. I wasn’t going to increase it all at once that first week, because then my competition would see that and keep increasing theirs. Slow and steady – try to be the underdog, below the radar. In your job search, you want to be selective. Set up a schedule of job search activities with target dates. Use an excel spreadsheet if that helps. Target employers and jobs, customize your resume and cover letter and have goals. You can’t ultimately control what the employer decides, but you can control how you handle the process.
5) Just start doing it and KEEP GOING – no matter what
The toughest part of the Fitbit challenge was the daily grind. It was exhausting. Running in the cold, wind and rain – it was less than ideal. There were points where my feet and toes felt numb. Honestly, I was ready to bail by the end of day three. Fitting in time to workout 3x a day during the week and more on weekends was tiresome. It also left me no time to do much of anything else – for an entire month. The job search game is also draining – maybe not as much physically, but definitely mentally. Get a support system that can cheer you on. For me, it was others in the contest. Do you know other job seekers? Find your tribe so you can bounce ideas off them. Having others who can relate to what you are going through will get you through the bad times and makes celebrating the wins even better.
By the end of week four, I was over it. My coworkers were over hearing me talk about it. I just wanted my life back. I did not want to walk, run, jump or do a thing. However, that mental and physical exhaustion wasn’t going to beat me. You can’t let the discouragement and ups and downs of the job search get to you either. If you keep at it, you will prevail. When you start something, you finish it. I dug deep and kept going, eventually upping my daily steps from 30k, to 40k, then 50k and finally 60k+ on that last day (over 24 miles). Yes, it took til the final hour of the final day (11:40 pm to be exact). But, at least I knew that I gave it my all. There is satisfaction in a job well done – whether that be a contest like this or your job search. You can do this – keep going.
Photo Credit: Allied Building Products
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