For the first time in a while, I’ve had a whole bunch of meetings this week.
It’s always an active part of my week, but I had slowed down multiple meetings a week for a while, just kind of by nature of having a whole bunch of other stuff I needed to tend to with my days. Now that some of that stuff has been taken care of, I was able to schedule more connection time.
Admittedly, most of these meetings have been related to my current job search, which is a little different than my usual connection meeting simply to build relationships and community. But what’s super cool about that is that every single one of the people I met with this week reached out to me to offer their valuable time and resources. I gotta say, I’m proud of having built those kinds of authentic relationships over the years.
Anyway, inevitably, the first question in these conversations – along with every single text or email conversation I’m having with other friends too – is something along the lines of, “So how is the search going?”
And my answer is a variation on, “Well, I mean, it’s tough. It’s basically a full-time job in itself. It’s up and down day-to-day, and sometimes it’s hard not to get too excited, to balance my enthusiasm about a good interview and position with not getting my hopes up too high. But overall, it’s going fairly well, mostly because I set really clear and appropriate expectations going in.”
Most people are a little bit blown away by that. Like, I get a lot of, “Wow, that’s so impressive. You sound so positive! I would be having such a hard time. How do you stay so confident?”
The truth is, I am positive. And at the risk of eliciting an eye roll from you behind your screen, it’s easy for me to stay confident.
For me, positivity isn’t blind. It’s a tool, a tactic. One that’s based in one of my core values: hope. Hope is rooted in trust, and trust inspires confidence. It’s pretty simple, really.
Keeping perspective, building resilience, turning a challenging task into a great experience is made easier by knowing your values and learning to trust them in yourself. And all that is? It’s practicing and implementing self-discovery strategy.
I mentioned I set myself clear and appropriate expectations going into this process, and that doing so has helped me stay confident throughout (ten weeks and counting…). Those expectations – and the subsequent ability to evaluate outcomes or lack thereof – were determined through self-discovery work and practice. The basic result looked a little like this:
OK, I’ve made the choice to commit fully to a full-time job search. For me, that means I’ll service my existing clients and set aside any marketing and business development efforts for KT Coaching other than anything inbound. I’ll evaluate those inbound opportunities as they come up. I’ll shoot for writing my weekly email because I like it and that’s it.
I know that this process is going to beat me up, a lot, I’m going to deal with a lot of rejections that aren’t personal, some that probably are.
I know this process is going to take a while – I estimate at least six months.
I’m going to search for and apply to at least 3-5 jobs per day. I’m also going to do direct networking, reaching out to folks in positions, companies, or industries I’m interested in, or just those who have great networks. I’ll make asks and make time for those meetings, thanking each person, and following up.
I know I can do every job I’m applying for, and I’ll make sure hiring managers and recruiters know it. I’ll do my research, but I will not lose myself in their process. I’ll clearly portray my values, my value, and I will be exactly myself in every interaction in order to ensure any possible opportunities are truly a match. I’m not in this for just a paycheck, it’s an intentional next step in my career. I want to believe in a company as much as they believe in me. I will only accept a position that meets my needs.
I’ll be honest with myself about any feedback I get, any interview experience I have. I’ll take what I learn and apply it to the next thing. I’ll fill any gaps I learn that I have. I will trust that if something doesn’t work out, it wasn’t the right thing, and that right thing is still out there for me. Because it is, and I deserve it.
And along the way, I will freaking take care of myself. I will take breaks, even if I don’t think I can. I will be social. I will exercise and eat well and sleep. I will get outside. I will not skip therapy. I will do my hobbies regularly. I’ll be compassionate toward myself when I feel I’ve made mistakes or had a bad interview or get another rejection.
Now, OK, that seems like a lot.
But here’s the thing about self-discovery and confidence and setting expectations – it is a lot. It’s not something to just blush over, especially if you haven’t really approached things in this way before. If you do, that’s actually what leads to a lot of disappointment and not being able to cope as well with challenging situations. Sure, there are a lot of pieces and details involved. And it all sometimes seems like kind of a big, overarching, woo kind of thing, but it’s not. There’s a framework.
And it’s an effective framework. I haven’t been feeding you BS about something I wouldn’t trust for a decade. It works, and all my clients will agree.
If you look closely at my personal reflection here in the face of the daunting task of a job search in a highly competitive market, you’ll notice a few major things:
A clear boundary and delineation of my professional time and effort.
A clearly defined emotional expectation, as well as a clearly defined timeframe.
A specific description of my daily tasks related to the main priority of this effort, which is also clearly defined as obtaining a position that utilizes my strengths and talents in a way I enjoy, that benefits a company mission and vision that I believe in, that provides me with compensation and a lifestyle equal to my contribution.
A clear representation of my values, how I will show up throughout the process, and expectations for potential employers and teams.
A planned approach for how I’ll address and incorporate feedback and rejection.
An explicit declaration that self-compassion and self-care are a non-negotiable part of the process, and an agreement with myself that I will not neglect them.
A built-in system for evaluating my version of success and next steps.
Emphasis added to, well, emphasize just how beneficial and applicable the self-discovery process can be to keep your confidence up in all kinds of other real-life challenges, goals, situations, whatever. At its most basic, what we’re talking about here is knowing yourself, your values, your needs, your boundaries, your priorities, turning that stuff into tangible tasks and outcomes, and always incorporating self-compassion so you don’t feel like shit going through it. And for the things, like this, that can lead to a lot of mental and emotional floundering, it lays out a custom set of metrics too that can go a long way toward effectively managing those mental and emotional lows.
It’s helping me not hate everything and everyone through a job search, but it could help you do literally anything you want to do right now.
Health and fitness goals.
Starting a business.
Changing or quitting a job.
Buying a house.
Making adult friends.
And the list goes on.
The same principles and process of self-discovery I described in detail can help you set helpful (vs. suuuuuper unhelpful and unrealistic) expectations and maintain authentic confidence while you work toward your desires, too.
All this stuff is hard. As they say – adulting, right? But, like, it just doesn’t have to be so agonizingly hard that it hurts, so bad, every single day.
Come back to trust. Always come back to trust! Trust inspires confidence, so think about where you want to place your trust.
When it comes to the tough stuff, the very best place, the finest person, the one you can always trust and count on, is you. Figure out how you can do that with a little less resistance through self-discovery, and I promise, you’ll move positively and confidently through any of the toughest parts of life.
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