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Fawn Germer

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The 10 Magic Steps from Depression to Career Transition

Posted: 10/06/09 01:52 PM ET

If you want to completely overhaul your life, just follow these ten magic steps.

No, wait!

I keep seeing articles like that. You know, eight or nine or eleven tips that will completely transform you from loser to winner, from fat to thin, from poor to rich. Whatever.

If only it were that easy. I gave a keynote last week and was stopped by someone who told me that what I really needed to do was give 10 steps to transition into another profession for those who don't even know what they want to do.

Now, I am sure somebody will happily provide such a list. A lot of authors pretend to have some fantastic step-by-step formula that will do what years of therapy and self-exploration won't. There is no way to look at a diverse group of people and come up with a formula that will solve the mystery of life for one and all.

You've got to get your head in the game so you can figure it out for yourself. That means clearing out the negativity and depression that is closing you off from the possibility that matters to you. If you want steps, I'll give you steps that will open you up so you can find the clarity that will help you find out what you truly are meant to do. The answers are within you -- not some author.

1. Get dressed in the morning. Look good. Feel good so you can deliver. 

2. Exercise. Do you stop exercising because you get depressed or do you get depressed because you stopped exercising? Do whatever you need to do in order to keep your depression at bay. Take your meds. Pray. Take care of yourself so you are able to deliver at your greatest level of performance.

3. Take charge of your brain. If you put negative in, you get negative out. Put positive in, get positive out. You have tremendous power to control what you are thinking and, when you start hearing the negative tapes, just give yourself a verbal “Stop” cue. Deliberately replace your negative thoughts with something positive. It’s easier if you have a list of five positive things to go to for those low moments. For example, “I’ve been so successful in the past. I’m smart enough to get through this.”

4. Know that these tough times will not last forever. As much as it feels like you are sinking into a bottomless pit of quicksand, you aren’t. Don’t let yourself slide into the mentality that says you may never get another job, that you may never make as much as you once made, that you will have to work until the day you die. All that does is make you struggle more.

5. Remember who you are and who you are not. I see a lot of people who experience rejection and then process it as failure. They forget how talented and viable they are, so it becomes harder to project themselves as desirable. That poises them for more rejection. You have not lost your talent. And your setbacks have not erased your successes. They are just obstacles. You have succeeded in the past and you will succeed in the future.

6. Choose your friends carefully. If you surround yourself with hopeless people, you’ll lose hope. This can be hard if most of your friends are former co-workers who were also laid off. And, that can be even worse if you are competing for the same jobs against your friends. You’ll constantly wonder why someone got an interview or job that you didn’t. For the time being, be around people who will propel your success.

7. Network. Duh. We’ve all heard “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Well, it is also how you know them. Don’t network to make business connections. Network to make relationships. It is more important that you know that somebody likes to watch Grey’s Anatomy and loves pizza with anchovies than it is that you know their job description. Make important people fall in love with your personality and leverage those friendships so they take care of you professionally.

8. Listen. What are you supposed to do with your life? The universe will send you many prompts. Great turning points often present themselves in passing.

9. Don’t limit yourself to the classifieds. Executives are constantly asking other executives, “Do you know anyone who can…” They don’t want to advertise jobs because they don’t want 8,000 resumes. Network, network, network. Figure out where you want to work, then start writing key people to introduce yourself.

10. Know your weekly goals and achieve them by setting daily tasks. Then, do them. Do something every day to move you closer to your goal. Whether you spend time networking or writing letters or taking classes or attending job fairs, do something to keep yourself in the game.

The most important thing is to have faith. Things will work out. I am not being flip. I am not shrugging off your pain or uncertainty. Things do have a way of working out. I don’t want to minimize anybody’s suffering or delude myself into thinking that hope conquers all, but the truth is that there are very few of you who will wind up eating out of garbage cans. There’s so much you can’t control, so give it to the wind.

 

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