Question: How do I regain my confidence after being under-employed for a long time?
I’ve been vastly under-employed for quite some time. I’m ready to move forward but lack confidence about doing so because I’m concerned that my skills and experience won’t pass muster. What inner and outer work do you suggest that will help me stay focused on what I CAN do rather than what I HAVE BEEN doing for the past few years?
Advice from Dana
Given that I’m not a psychologist or therapist, I will speak from the heart and mind with a few choices:
1. Read motivational books, articles, websites
One of my favorite books is “Change the Way You See Everything“by Kathryn Cramer and Hank Wasiak. Not only is this book beautiful, but the advice also helped me through both cancer and a job search (thankfully not at the same time).
Here are some of my favorite insights:
Use asset-based thinking, not deficit-based thinking
- Instead of thinking, “I’ll never make it,” think, “Put one foot in front of the other and move.”
- Instead of, “That’s impossible,” think, “What is possible?”
- Instead of, “I’ll never get this done,” think, “This will take longer than I expected.”
- Instead of, “What’s the matter with me?” think, “What am I learning?”
Magnify what’s best and focus on what’s next
- Set your sights on what you want or need.
- Move past fear.
- Set your sights on the next step.
Imitate shamelessly and often
The fastest way to learn anything is to imitate a role model. For asset-based thinkers, acquiring new insights and skills by imitating the values, beliefs, approaches and behaviors of individuals they admire is a way of life.
Invest time right now in figuring out where you are “stuck” and get “un-stuck” immediately. Whatever works for you, just do it.
2. Partner with a friend, another job seeker, a coach… somebody!
Friends can provide support, proof your writing, help you celebrate the steps on your journey, and give you new ideas. They can also show “tough love” by kicking you in the pants, scolding you for the excuses you make up, and getting you motivated.
Other resources may be found online in job search forums and career websites where there are communities of others who are job seeking right now.
3. Give Your Job Search a Project Name — Make it a thing, an adventure, a project
Think of some accomplishments you have made during your lifetime. It may have been “the Easter 5K,” “graduation,” or “had a baby.” Your job search is another accomplishment in development. So name it now. Call it “My Job Winning Project,” “Job Search Mission,” or “Fred.” Place a huge label on this journey. It is just another race. Because there is a finish line and you will be celebrating.
How many of you have managed projects at school or work? Completed a term paper, wrote a monthly report, balanced a budget, closed a sales order, or any other milestone in your life? This is no different. It has a start, an end, and all kinds of steps in the middle. The steps are not always clear, and the outcomes of each move are not what you anticipated.
4. Talk positively to and about yourself every day
Sounds corny, I know. But it works. Keep reminding yourself:
- This is my chance to find the job I truly want and possibly make more money.
- I know there are jobs where I can help hiring managers fill a role.
- I can convince them that I am the best hire for them, even in a crowded market.
- I am optimistic and excited to be in job-search mode, as I will learn and get better every day.
5. Get professional help
If you have been looking for a job for a long time without success, it’s reasonable that you feel down. But if you don’t deal with the problem, you’ll likely continue experiencing and feeling defeat.
Get some help from a counselor, a therapist or another professional who can help you regain your perspective. You need to deal with this, along with any other toxic mindsets, to give yourself the best chance of landing the job you really want.