7 Keys to Making New Habits Work! - September 2013

7 Keys to Making New Habits Work!

So let’s consider Sept 22nd (if you are going by the start of autumn) as a new year, and the time for a fresh start!

If you have not been as successful in your job search as you would like, below are some key actions you can put into place that will help you be more successful.

Just like any other change/resolution, in order to make it work we need to figure out what needs to be different. Doing it the same-old way obviously didn't work, or you wouldn't be here. How about a new approach – with built-in ways to ensure your success?

Get ready to change:

1. Be ready (really, really ready) to make a change.

  • Oh yes, the early work does require some soul searching. How serious are you about doing what it takes to get a job? Can you see yourself utilizing a new way of doing your job search? Can you envision the new results? Visualize yourself making the changes required to get the job you want and deserve. If this new path is not appealing to you, you aren't ready, and I suggest you don’t start now. You need to get ready to be ready.
  • If you are ready, focus on the positive. It is much easier to be and stay motivated when you are moving towards something positive instead of away from something negative. Visualize yourself breathing more easily, being more confident and being received more positively by others. See yourself accepting the job you want! Visualization is the often practiced by athletes; this is not hocus-pocus. It works!

With that vision in mind:

2. Plan-Plan-Plan!!!!

Get out your keyboard, or paper and pencil. When you start out on a road trip, you prepare for that adventure with a destination, planning, and a road map. With this new way of navigating your job search, you need to consider the same type of planning. This is where people fail, more than anywhere else. Either they do not have a clear direction (type of position), or they do not have a strategy for getting there.

  • In your career, you wouldn't work on a project without first creating a strategy; yet somehow, you may think you can do your job search without one. Without a strategy, your job search will be harder and take longer, just like any other project.
  • Break your goals into small steps that are SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Realistic and Time Dependent -- so that you have a way to measure how you are doing. You can be accountable! Research tells us it is much more effective to make your goal a specific “positive” v/s a ‘negative’. Again, focus on what you are going towards v/s away from. “I will introduce myself to at least 3 people at each networking event” v/s “I won’t just go sit in the corner.” Better yet put these on the calendar and honor your commitment to yourself as you would any other appointment or commitment.

Getting a job, is your job right now. When you are at work you plan like this, so you deserve this planning for yourself and your future.

3. Set yourself up for success:

We need a bit of ingenuity here. You need a place to work in order to support your new goals. If you are working in bed, in front of the TV or where the kids are, your chances of achieving your goal are not so good.

  • Get a job-search buddy, a coach or join (or create) a group that you can be accountable to. Exchange ideas and encourage each other. Now you have a structure that supports your goal. It is not just a plan, but a reality.
  • Reflect on your history with change and think about how you work best. What is likely to get in your way? Where do you tend to fall off the wagon? Make a list and make plans for each situation, so it will not surprise you or cause you to undo all the good you have accomplished.
  • If you think you will be too tired to go to a networking meeting tonight, take a break and go to the gym, or take a nap. If you hate doing company research, do it first thing in the morning. Work on it for just 30 minutes and then take the next 30 minutes to do something you enjoy as a small reward. Take a walk or call a friend.

4. Utilize what we know:

  • Psychological studies have shown that making a full-on commitment to do something for 30-days will turn it into a habit. Continuing to do the new activity for three to four weeks tends to make it automatic. It also helps you psychologically to commit to a specific block of time, as opposed to thinking this has to be forever (even if it should be, like keeping up your network). Think of it as "just a month for now." One step at a time.

It also helps to be consistent by doing your activity at the same time, in the same place. For instance, do your research on companies or industries first thing in the morning for 1-2 hrs. Connect with people on Linked-In before lunch for 1 hour. Reserve Monday, Wednesday and Friday for networking lunches.