Updated: Dec 11, 2019
The holidays are seen as a break. But few of us actually slow down. Over the past two years, the word “pause” kept coming up for me — from many directions. I realized I was so busy “doing,” that my "being" was completely out of whack. I see
this with my career coaching clients too. A job search takes up so much time, they can’t just “be.” That puts them out of synch with their Best selves.
In the midst of family gatherings, ugly sweater parties, and giving back to the community, you’ll have professional goals you want to achieve this winter too. Keep in mind that we are human beings not human doers. To understand what we offer the world and the difference we can make in a work environment, we need to be mindful and pause long enough to identify our strengths.
I’ve recently had the opportunity to pause and really think about what is important to me. Taking the time to observe rather than immediately judge gave me the freedom to identify the next steps in my own career path that would best suit my talents. I’ve been encouraging my clients to slow down too.
Just a moment of mindfulness can have a real positive impact on whatever you’re doing (and get rid of your inner Grinch). I encourage my clients to practice STOP mindfulness. This is S for stop, T for take a breath, O for observe, and P for proceed. And it works even when assessing job postings, revising a resume, or getting ready for an interview.
Taking a breath and focusing on your breathing for 15 - 20 seconds gives you greater clarity. You are less reactive and can often lower your stress around these stages of the job search.
You might then observe how you feel about a particular job posting you are reviewing. Are you excited? Do you feel like an elf about to make a favorite toy? OK, move forward with customizing your cover letter and resume, networking, and making your interest in the position known. Is your reaction more of a “meh”? Then, this may not be the position you want to apply for, even despite your anxiety about whether or not you’ll have a job two months from now.
Take advantage of that mental break you gave yourself while breathing to observe how you can best represent yourself. Ask yourself, “which of my strengths should I highlight for this job?” Or “what about me BEST fits this opportunity?” And, importantly, “why does this opportunity suit my goals and dreams?”
Mindfulness & Innovation
The fact that I’m talking about mindfulness in a job search context could surprise some people. They think mindfulness is “out there” and worry they’ll be expected to meditate or maybe wear white while humming and holding crystals. That’s the TV version.
Really, mindfulness is about raising your self awareness. It’s about focusing on the now and being fully present, which helps you avoid getting overwhelmed by anxiety about the future or anger or resentment about the past. When you think about mindfulness like this, it’s easier to see its use in amplifying your strengths for your job search.
Consider innovation. It’s one of the biggest buzz words in the business world today. Every brand wants to be innovative, and they need creative people to “think outside of the box.” Yet it’s tough to do that when stressed or overwhelmed.
As I wrote recently, embracing more of my being and trusting my gut has empowered me to be more creative and successful in my work.
What have you done lately that showed your creativity or provided an innovative idea to your workplace or in your job search?
Just as Santa was innovative when he asked Rudolph to lead his sleigh through the fog, I often ask clients to think of new ways to reach out to their network. Scrolling through contacts on LinkedIn will help, but it’s not very “outside of the box.” Be more creative in making connections. You might try sending a personal note to a past colleague or emailing a former boss with an idea or a solution to a problem.
Spend some time this week simply focusing on being present and letting new ideas flow. Again, observe don’t judge. Any idea is worth considering. If you listen to that negative inner voice that says “that’s dumb,” you’re judging and could close off new avenues to innovation. Let your true self speak. Turning off autopilot and focusing in for a few minutes can inspire you to take steps that bring you closer to your goal.
Mindfulness & Perseverance
Job searches and career transitions can brim with disappointments. Maybe you're applying for job after job on all the best websites, but you’re not getting call backs. Perhaps those e-mails or LinkedIn in-mails are getting no responses. Or that lunch you've been dying to have keeps getting rescheduled. It’s easy to get frustrated.
But none of this is necessarily personal. The people you are trying to reach could also be too busy “doing.” Again, get creative. Send another e-mail asking for a coffee meeting instead. Or find other people in the same department and connect with them. One of my mentors told me job seekers should have up to three connection points with the hiring manager or person of importance for the job they want. This demonstrates your interest, organization, and persistence.
Now, don't get me wrong, no one wants a stalker. Be proactively persistent without being a pest. This is not a Hollywood movie where you are going to end up with a happy ending if you have the same over-the-top tenacity as Will Ferrell’s “Buddy” in Elf.
Mindful perseverance takes methodical organization, confidence, and creativity. Slow down and make observations about the best way to proceed before taking action.
Mindfulness & Collaboration
Collaboration is another key attribute you need to demonstrate in your career. Santa would never get around the world in one night if all the reindeer weren’t pulling together as a team. So, how does mindfulness improve your team work?
For one, mindfulness helps people to hone in on a clear intention. Instead of bringing everyone to the table to “spitball.” A mindful collaboration would start out with individuals identifying the desired outcomes and particular goals of that collaboration.
The observing part of mindfulness benefits collaboration too. Being curious about
others’ contributions, and avoiding judgment, encourages a freer flow of ideas.
The compassion you show yourself in mindfulness can also have a positive impact on your interactions with others. You are more likely to show empathy. Plus, your ability to take a breath and think before reacting can help you respond in calmly and professionally, which can help avoid team drama.
Taking the Next Step with Mindfulness
Mindfulness is about appreciating every step of your journey rather than focusing on your final, desired destination. It’s about intentionality. But you don’t have to do it all alone. Working with a career coach can help you be more focused and mindful as you make your career search plan. Learn more about how I can help you put the Best You out there for those next great opportunities to feed your true self’s passions.