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Job-Hunting? Focus on the Mojo

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Dear Liz,

I've put my nose to the grindstone at my job for the past twelve years, and three weeks ago, the company closed its doors. My instinct is to be just as assiduous about job-hunting as I was on the job, because I'm definitely a Type A personality and I like to break through barriers as quickly as possible. My concern about the fanatical 24-hour-a-day job search plan I have in mind is that if it doesn't work quickly, I might tend to get discouraged and become desperate. I have financial reserves for six months or so but I also suspect that I might become more and more frantic as those weeks and months drag on. How do you suggest I structure my job search so that I balance frenetic forward energy with a longer-term view in case I don't get my dream job in two weeks?

Thanks,

Carly

Dear Carly,

I'm sorry to hear about the layoff -- how disappointing that must have been for you, especially after twelve years of hard work! When a company goes out of business after you helped to build it, there's a loss and a grieving process. You lost your job and your professional status and your work friends and a place to go in the morning. I encourage you to take at least a little time for yourself before jumping into what you so appropriately called "frenetic forward energy" mode again. Forward is not always the best way to go.

You are not just a working machine. You are complex and brilliant, Carly, and you deserve to take care of yourself even as you muse and daydream about what's next for you. Get a journal and write in it, anything that comes to mind. Have coffee with your dear friends and ride your bike. Plant bulbs for next spring. Do yoga perhaps -- do whatever will nourish you. The universe has given you a nudge. The message is not, "Don't listen to the nudge! Get another job, fast!" The message is "Now it's your time to figure out what the message is."

What did you love in that last job and what frustrated you? When did you feel alive and Carli-fied, and when on the job did you feel shut down and less than yourself? Those are some of the questions you can reflect on now. This is your reflection and reinvention time. Don't slam through it to look for the next job, not just yet. You deserve to be among people who get you and celebrate you, doing work that's important to you. That work may look like something you've done before, or may look dramatically different. You'll know it when you see it, and very likely won't have identified whatever it turns out to be as a good fit for you until the moment you encounter it.

So, this is a gathering and waiting time. Tell your story (not just this last 12-year job -- I mean the whole Carly story, starting from early childhood) to your friends. Get their thoughts on your next steps. Your friends know you better than you know yourself, because they see the wholeness and beauty in you when you're thinking "I should lose five lbs., I'm late on a deadline, my hair is frizzy," or whatever you're thinking about yourself apart from "I am whole and perfect right now." This time is about mojo, not job-search methodology or frenetic forward motion. Where, after all, does that urge for frenetic forward motion come from? It comes from fear. You have something amazing and wonderful to share. The last feeling you want to reinforce is the one that says "Oh dear, I hope I can find somebody who wants what I have."

Here are a few more ways to grow your job-search mojo. (The methodology is easy. I have a zillion free E-Books and articles and podcasts on my site -- download them when you have time):

  • Pick up a creative activity that you abandoned somewhere along the line -- drawing or painting or improv or whatever you love to do. That will bring your right brain back into the picture and get you out of "My brain will solve this!" mode.
  • Get physical. Run, cycle, walk, dance, chase toddlers around a preschool, whatever. Get into your body. A shocking and horrifying truth about the American business ecosystem is that we shun and devalue physical exertion (some might say 'the use and celebration of our bodies') as beneath us. I know -- I used to follow the pre-diet Drew Carey philosophy, viewing my body as something that carried my head from room to room. The wisdom and mojo you need now are in your body, not your mind. Move it!
  • Be an advisor. Go volunteer at a local church or YWCA job search support group. You'll be amazed how much you have to offer job-seekers, and how mojo-building it will be for you to advise them and help them grow their mojo, too.
  • Do things you didn't have time to do when you were working full-time. Go to an afternoon movie and take a day-long driving or cycling trip. Get out of your head and experience the real world. Your mojo has been associated with your duties and your title. Get your mojo planted back where it belongs, attached to the resilient and dazzling real Carly, not the job you had for awhile or the title or the paycheck or the business card.

You are rebuilding your mojo, Carly, and that doesn't happen on your timetable or mine. Give yourself two or three weeks away from the already-too-frenetic (and God knows, too left-brained) world of work and commerce. When you begin your job search, take it slowly. Think about where you'd like to play, versus where you think you need to be in order to be acceptable to some person you haven't even met yet. Focus on you. Your story is your brand, and your power is in your absolute, rock-solid, unshakeable belief that you are powerful and unique in yourself and that the next place you work will be full of people who are delighted to know you. (And vice versa.)

Nose to the grindstone mode is a great way to be for short bursts when you're in the zone and pushing toward a goal that's important to you. The goal of reinvention is not to pop out of the chute job-ready, but to experience what the universe is trying to tell you about yourself and your place on the planet. It's hard for us Type A folks to take in, but you can't rush that. Maybe that is part of the message someone is trying to send you. What a gift, right? Now, what about those tulip bulbs?

Love,

Liz