One trait all highly successful professionals have is mental strength. They're aware of how much their mindset plays in the ability to set and achieve their goals. While you might think their success comes from doing more than anyone else. The truth is, it's all the things they don't do that gets them results. In her book, "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," Amy Morin outlines the ways in which successful people think differently than the unsuccessful ones. The secret lies in controlling your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.
Are you a "victim" or "hero" in your career story?
As a career coach, I learned early on in my practice that the sooner I could isolate the negative assumptions and beliefs held by a job seeker, the faster I could help them rewire their thoughts, leading to new behaviors, and subsequently, more positive outcomes i.e. a new job! It's all about career confidence. Just like a superhero, you can't land your dream job without a great career story. By showing job seekers how to take themselves from a "victim" to "hero" mentality, I help them remove the roadblocks holding them back. Learning to, "leap tall buildings in a single bound," starts with learning how to leverage neuro-linguistic programming to your advantage. This is more commonly known as self-talk. And, when you get skilled at crushing the weak, negative stories you keep repeating in your mind and replace them with more powerful, positive ones, amazing results will follow.
Let me share an example...
Ellen (her name's been changed for this article), came to me on the one year anniversary of her being unemployed. A talented digitalmarketing executive, a series of events had led her to be out of work much longer than she expected. First, she had to care for an ailing parent, then she relocated to a new city, and finally, she enrolled full-time in a two-month certification program to gain a valuable skill relevant to her industry. In the blink of an eye, 365 days had passed and she found herself feeling guilty about not working. Especially, because while researching job search advice online, she came across an article citing a study that showed people who had been out of work over a year were perceived as "damaged goods" by recruiters and were less likely to get contacted about opportunities. Her career confidence was shaken and she was struggling to find a way to articulate a good answer to, "Why have you been out of work so long?" As a result, she was shying away from networking to avoid being put on the spot. Instead, she was blasting out resumes online and receiving a stream of rejections. This only served to make her feel worse. And, given over 80 percent of professional-level jobs are gotten via referral today, she was essentially sabotaging her job search efforts!
When you give away your power, your job search suffers.
In our first online chat session, she shared all this with me. I immediately pointed out because of one thing she read online, she was giving her power away in the situation by interpreting the last year's events as bad. In reality, how she chose to interpret the past was totally up to her. This is true for all of us. The story you tell yourself about every step in your career journey is subjective. Deciding whether something was good or bad for your career is entirely up to you. Which also means, you can change it!
Ellen and I worked to write up a response that was objective, factual and closed on a high note. It basically went like this:
Recruiter: Why have you been out of work so long?
Ellen: I'm glad you asked. This past year has been a powerful learning experience for me. I chose to leave my last role to care for my ailing father. He's fully recovered now, but it made me realize life is truly short and that it was time for me to move to the place where I have always wanted to live. Once I got here, I enrolled in a 2-month course to improve my skills, build my professional network, and learn more about the employers in the area. Now that I've completed the course, I'm excited to be looking for full-time employment. Your company was at the top of my list. So, I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to be speaking with you."
As soon as Ellen committed to this career story in her head, things changed. She couldn't wait to get out there and network. She started contacting recruiters on her interview bucket list. Within a month, she had three interviews lined up. When asked the inevitable question about her time off, she couldn't believe how easy it was to respond and move the hiring process forward. Nobody questioned her response. And, why would they? It was truthful and positive. Which means, she was able to deliver it with confidence. She ultimately got two job offers and accepted one with a great organization. Best of all, she created her own happy ending to her career story!
P.S. - Even superheroes rely on others for help at times.
If you're reading this and thinking, "my situation is unique and more complex," I suggest you seek some help. Negative self-talk is often so strongly imprinted in our thoughts that it requires some outside perspective to successfully reprogram it. Shifting mindset requires a great deal of positive reinforcement. Having an unbiased person help you re-write and validate your new career story can help to speed up your ability to internalize it.