Must A Short-Term Job Be In Your Career Field?


I had the opportunity yesterday to listen as a 22 year-old woman explained to her fellow classmates what job or career she was after. She cited her long-term objective in Policy Development and went on to say that in the short-term she would do just about anything but it absolutely had to be related to her long-term objective or she’d feel it was a waste of her time.

So how do you feel about that statement? Would you agree that short-term jobs should be related to your own long-term goals in order to be a valuable use of your time?

It’s commendable of course that she’s got a long-term career objective. While it’s not mandatory in order to have a rewarding career, having a vision of what you want and knowing how you’re going to achieve it is one way to successfully move forward. It is, and I say with personal experience, not the only recipe for success.

This I hope comes as good news if you feel anxious about what your future holds. If you should be undecided about what you want to do on a long-term basis, it can feel paralyzing as well in the short-term should you feel you can’t apply for jobs not knowing if they’ll help you or not in the long run.

Allow me to share a little of my own experience in the hopes you might find it comforting. It wasn’t until 13 years ago, back in 2006 that I became an Employment Counsellor. That would put me at 46 years old as I embarked on what has been a rewarding, successful and fulfilling career. Prior to this I’d held a variety of different positions; some of them careers and others I’d call jobs. Whichever they were at the time didn’t really concern me as much as enjoying each I had, finding the pros and cons of each once in them and moving on when the cons outweighed the pros.

I didn’t have a long-term goal to work towards. I didn’t in my early twenties, even know that Employment Counsellors existed, so it was impossible therefore for me to have aspired to be one. Further, I suspect that had I graduated out of University and immediately had the fortune to be hired as an Employment Counsellor, my effectiveness would be very different without my life experiences to draw on.

Looking back in no particular order, I ran my own New and Cooperative Games business for 16 years after a year-long position working for the Province of Ontario; sold shoes and clothes; worked at a bowling alley; a video store; worked as a Programme Manger for a Boys and Girls Club; have been an Executive Director for a Social Services agency; worked for two municipalities as a Social Services Caseworker, and another for years in the field of Recreation. I have also worked in the private sector as an Area Supervisor, leading those who provided care in schools before, between and after classes. I’ve sold photography equipment in a mall, worked in a toy department of a major retailer, even spent one day filling in for a friend in a hot plastics factory. I’ve got summer residential camp experience, sat on volunteer boards and committees too. One year I was asked to lead an International Drug Awareness team in St. Lucia.

Whew! All over the map and one of the best examples I can think of where there sure doesn’t appear to be a linear history of progressive experience in the same field. I’ve worked for a province, two municipalities, the private and non-profit sectors as well as having been self-employed. My work has been in Retail, Recreation, Social Services and the Education sectors. I’ve also been on the front-line, middle management and senior management. I’ve had employment ended, quit, been promoted, been on strike, had to reinvent myself, and build up skills I didn’t know I had, use transferable skills and learn job-specific skills. In short, I’ve become resilient.

Now, here’s the best part. If you can believe it, all of these experiences have shaped who I am, how I think and act, given me empathy and understanding for a wide diversity of people with whom I partner. In short, I’m a decent Employment Counsellor today at 59 years-old BECAUSE of the path I took to get here.

My 22 year-old woman will likely change careers and jobs over the course of her lifetime. Jobs she eventually holds and loves might not even exist in 2019; maybe they’ll appear in 2032. Who knows?

Advice I believe to be sound is to gain experiences; paid and unpaid. Learn from what you do not just about the work, but how you feel as you do it. Always do your best to reward those who hired you and best serve those you call customers, clients, etc. You never know where life will take you; which job you may return to having left once (as I did). Treat employees and your Supervisors well for these are your future references.

All of the combined experiences I’ve had – just as you are collecting your own – are the things that are going to uniquely position us for jobs moving forward. “Why should I hire you?” is my favourite interview question. I can draw on all my past experiences; both the pros and the cons. Nobody out there has the same path as me. Or you for that matter!

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Career Planning Isn’t Mandatory


So here’s something that might surprise you; long-term career planning and mapping is NOT a mandatory requirement for career happiness and success. Well, that statement certainly flies in the face of the advice some very well-meaning professionals will give. And quite frankly, even the ones that acknowledge it isn’t absolutely mandatory will be wrong if they believe that only a small percentage of people reach career happiness without long-term planning.

Here’s why I believe the majority of people need not stress about the lack of some grand long-term plan.

First of all, when you’re in your teens and making choices about what courses to take in high school in order to eventually end up in college, university or a trade, you’re only basing these choices on the very limited exposure you’ve had in life to the world around you. You’re in your early teens and the people you’ve interacted with, the jobs you’ve acquired knowledge of are extremely confined to the ones you’re going to learn of in the next decade of your life. In other words, excepting some of course, it’s highly likely that with all the jobs that exist in the world – and will emerge in your future that don’t even exist in your teen years – the odds that what you want to do at 15 and 16 years of age will be what you’ll want to do until you’re 65 is very low.

In fact many high school graduates will take a year off before deciding what to do or what school to attend, simply to give themselves a year to make a better choice career-wise. Some will even do what they call a victory lap; another year of high school classes after graduating.

Further evidence are the people in first year university classes who take 5 very different subjects, just praying and hoping the light bulb goes on in that first year, and something grabs their interest. Maybe the first year classes include World Religions, Introduction to Philosophy, British Literature, Introduction to Sociology, and Introduction to Psychology. Oh by the way, these 5 were my own in year one. As it turns out, Sociology caught fire and so I loaded up with future courses to eventually graduate with a degree in Sociology.

In transitioning from a teen into a young adult, it is normal to expand your knowledge of various jobs and careers. As you start interacting independently with the world, responsible more often for things yourself, it only stands to reason that every so often some job catches your interest. Learning about the world around you and the people who live in it, many find themselves attracted to what others do. It follows naturally then that every so often you pause and think, “I could do that!”

Now of course we don’t act on every whim we get, but if we’re unsatisfied, curious, searching for something better or different, open to possibilities etc., we live consciously observing and then assessing pros and cons of various occupations. Sometimes we’ll also have conversations with folks in these jobs, asking them what they do, what skills and education it takes, how long they took to get started, the highs and lows, the good and the bad aspects of the work. Then we look and assess ourselves, what we both have and need if we wanted to head down some career path branching out from the path we’re on now.

This is normal by the way. To stay completely rigid, never varying from the path we imagined and set out on at 15 years old in this light seems the more peculiar. And yet, when we do decide to change our direction, for many it seems so hard to tell our parents, family and friends that we’ve had a change in what we want to do. Yes, we fear they’ll somehow think less of us; they’ll worry and think we’re indecisive and making an ill-informed choice. However, these family and friends haven’t been privy to the thoughts we’ve had – the deep, inner thoughts and feelings we’ve been experiencing for some time. It’s precisely these thoughts and feelings by the way that have acted as our guidance system. The more they cause us unease, the more we believe there has to be something else.

Even into our late 20’s and all the way into our 30’s and 40’s, it’s not uncommon for us to re-examine what it is we want to do with the rest of our lives. And why stop there? People in their 50’s and 60’s often take stock of where they are and what they want in their remaining working days often causing a job change.

When people near the end of their working life, it’s the norm – not the exception – that they’ll have amassed a varied career with several jobs and some career changes. Rather than meaning they fluttered from job to job aimlessly, it means they were wise enough to seize opportunities for change as they came along in life; and in the end they’ve had a diversified career. They may have in fact been very happy overall, where staying in one line of work may have caused them to feel trapped and less stimulated.

Now of course, one can be happy with one long-term career or several careers over a lifetime; even people with many jobs but no single career. Yes, you can win in the world of work any number of ways.

 

Stuck On What To Do; What To Be


Still trying to figure out what your purpose in life is? You know, that ONE thing you were put here on Earth to do? This certainly is one of the big ones; one of those questions that has a lot of implications.

When asked how they’ll know when they’ve found the right job or career, some reply, “I’ll just know”, while others will say, “It will just feel right.” However, what if – and it’s just a possibility of course – what if you were actually meant to dislike the job or career you’re meant to do? What if you’re supposed to struggle with it, fight against it, coming to appreciate the hard work involved, (mental or physical) required to do it well? What if in the end, it’s all the effort that goes into the job that makes the work more meaningful? Maybe for these people, it would never have, “just felt right” in the beginning at all?

Of course to many people, they want to discover THE job; the one they were destined for. Here’s something though to ponder… When we look back at history and talk of people of note, we in the present day brand these people for the occupations they held when they became famous. So we talk about Shakespeare the bard, Churchill the Prime Minister, Charlie Chaplin the actor or Roberta Bondar the astronaut. What we don’t talk of is the job or jobs these same people held earlier in their lives. Why? Because those jobs were of less significance to the masses. Were Churchill a Newspaper Boy or Shakespeare a farmer for a stint, we neither know nor care. But isn’t it true that the people they became were in fact shaped by who they once were? What they once did?

Take me for a current day example. Meet me as an Employment Counsellor and you might imagine this is all I’ve ever done. If I have a positive impact on you and you admire me for what I’m able to share with you or you appreciate my ability to support you as you move forward, you’ll always recall me as Kelly Mitchell the Employment Counsellor. However, I’ve sold shoes, worked in a bowling alley, been a Cooperative and New Games Trainer, and more. Those weren’t the jobs that made me a person of note in your own life; but I’ve been shaped by those jobs nonetheless.

The same is true of you. Wherever you ultimately end up, when you look back at your career or collection of jobs, you’ll see value in all the things you’ve done that shaped you along the way. This includes the positive experiences and yes, the ones which at the time were hard to go through, didn’t work out at all, or you performed well at but just had to change. We are all the sum of our experiences.

Trying to figure out what’s next so that you move in the direction you were always destined to go in and finally, “get it together” may or may not be possible. It could be that yes, you’ve been sufficiently stimulated to move in a direction that will bring you satisfaction and fulfillment. If so, great for you!

On the other hand, you might still be in a period of flux; that is, a time of confusion and change. Maybe all this struggle you’re having in trying to figure it out isn’t over. This doesn’t sound very encouraging or hopeful does it? I mean, if you’ve tried to figure it out for years and you feel no closer to doing so, what kind of hope or optimism can you have for the future? Will it always be a mental struggle to find that thing that makes you happy?

What if we accepted for a moment that there wasn’t one thing and one thing only after all? What if there isn’t just a single career that we were meant to do or someone we were meant to become? Maybe what’s right for us, what we were destined to do all along is a collection of various jobs and different types of work. Perhaps it’s a collection of experiences that taken together makes us the people we’ll become.

So when I was happy selling shoes, maybe I was in the right job at the time, although it’s not a good fit for me here in the present. For all I know, I might find that selling shoes is right for me in the future by the way. Maybe running my business for 16 years was the ideal thing for the Kelly of the 80’s and 90’s. But Kelly in 2018? I’m happy and stimulated being the best Employment Counsellor I can be. In fact, it’s that whole collection of earlier jobs and work that benefits those I help in my current job!

Now you. YOU! Feeling anxiety and pressure – maybe even depression or that feeling of being paralyzed as you try to figure it out? Understandable – completely. You’re feelings are valid. This is after all, one of the BIG ones – “What should I do?”

While you may not know yet what you should do, what is obvious is that it’s NOT what you’re currently doing. So if you’re stuck and doing nothing, continuing to do nothing isn’t going to get you closer to it. Do something. Act. Talk. Invest yourself. Work. Experience the value of experience.

A Newborn And The Helping Hands


On Thursday March 29th, I became a Grandfather. That’s Grandfather with a capital, ‘G’ whether it’s grammatically correct or not. It’s my latest job title, though I’ve decided my LinkedIn profile will not be updated to show this new role just as I’ve neglected to add Spouse or Father. Still, these are my 3 most significant job titles I’ve ever held.

He’s a beautiful boy and healthy too. The day I met him with my wife and in the ensuing few days at the hospital, I started thinking about all the various people who were connected professionally with this little guy and his parents. Yes I was thinking about the occupations connected with giving him a good start in the world; and of course, he’s but a single baby. Extrapolate the numbers that follow over thousands upon thousands of births worldwide and you’ve got a whole host of people employed!

There’s the nursing team which is so much more than the single Nurse who I happened to see. He was after all in the hospital 4 days, and so exactly how many came and went I’ve no idea, but let’s conservatively say he had 5. If I took the time to ask, I’d likely find that these Nurses were slightly different in their roles too. I observed there were cleaning staff there too, who ensured vacated rooms next to my daughter and son-in-laws were disinfected, bed made anew and ready for the next expectant mom.

All the furniture in that room, including the bed, table and two chairs, the technical equipment, buzzers, lighting, floor tiles, drywall, plaster, paint, toilet, shower, plumbing, electrical wiring – these don’t appear by magic. There are people we never see and seldom think to thank who make all these things.

There’s the medical team expanding beyond the Nurses I saw. Doctors of course, Lab Technicians, people who take and test blood samples as well as others who read and relay results. In this birth, there was the Midwife too, and she played a role both before, during and post-delivery – visiting the mom and baby in their home 3x too.

Given that we spent some time at that hospital, I wandered the halls and found to my surprise that the main floor might be mistaken for a shopping mall. There was a Tim Horton’s, Subway, Fresshi, plus 4 or 5 other eating places I can’t recall. There was a florist, a gift shop, an information centre, security and all these stores were buzzing with activity requiring multiple employees.

Now my daughter and son-in-law have landed themselves in a caring neighbourhood. One day I sat holding my grandson and noticed someone walking up to their front door. There was no knock, and then I saw the person turn around and walk away. Turns out a neighbour dropped off a brown bag of groceries including a bottle of wine and a speciality bread plus some other goodies. So there are merchants benefitting from these extra purchases. Included was a card of congratulations, so again, another merchant benefitted. Somebody produced that card, wrote the message inside and made the artwork on front. Somebody made the glass bottle for the wine, another person grew the grapes etc.

Now me? I was sent out to buy formula which hadn’t been planned on needing. Good luck finding an open store on Easter Sunday that carried the specific brand, size and type requested. Three stores later I came home with the right stuff. The next day I returned it as it was a bigger size than asked for, and again off to yet another store to get the right product. Sigh… Still, more people making and selling products.

Coming in at 11 pounds, the ‘little’ guy was too big for many of the clothes and receiving blankets at the ready. So off my wife and I went yet again to buy bigger outfits and blankets. “And say dad while you’re out, would you mind doing the grocery shopping? There’s a list on the table of stuff we’d like and some extra items to buy if on sale. Thanks. We really appreciate it.” Ah, nice to be useful and of help, and more people connected with this birth from the clothes manufacturers, Farmers, Grocers, Cashiers, Stockers, Truck Drivers to deliver the goods, Border Agents to screen them entering Ontario.

There’s an endless list it seems. After all, who made the crib, car seat, bassinet, mattress, blankets, toys, books, stuffed animals, recliner, dresser, bureau etc. that make up the baby’s room? There’s the monitor – you get the idea.

So far the little guy is what, 8 days old? He’s already helped keep an army of people employed and will continue to do so as he grows, goes to daycare, school, joins groups and perhaps the band, sports teams, a choir, who knows?

Indulge me here, I’m a proud Father and proud Grandfather. It’s been a rough go for my daughter and my son-in-law. Lots of sleepless nights getting up for feedings and dealing with this major surgery. They’ll get through it though I’m sure. We all figure it out don’t we?

Let me close with a big thank you to all involved not just in helping make entering this world safer and easier for my grandson, but for all the little ones born elsewhere. Oh and the Butcher that gave my daughter an extra slice of meat when she came in and was obviously expecting, thanks to you too!

The Purpose Of A Job Interview


As I regularly speak to groups of unemployed people, I often ask them how they feel about job interviews. While a few look forward to them with genuine enthusiasm, most tell me they dread them. Given that an interview of some kind takes place before hiring, let’s look at what an interview is, the purpose it serves and of course how you can perform best.

So what is an interview? Do you see it as a mandatory meeting called where you’re to be drilled, interrogated, the truth sweated out, then evaluated, judged and ultimately rejected as undesirable; sometimes with no explanation whatsoever provided where you went wrong? Gee, no wonder you dread the interview process!

A job interview is really conversation between two or more people, where everyone agrees the discussion will be focused on an opportunity. It is an opportunity for both you the applicant and the employer to see if you’ll be a good fit for the job and equally if the job and the employer are a good fit for you. Sure they’re offering a job, but you’re offering yourself as a solution to their needs. If they had no needs, there’d be no job to apply to.

The purpose of the job interview then is to find the fit. To have received the offer of an interview, you must have impressed them enough with your résumé and/or cover letter. So this meeting is really about finding out what’s not on the résumé. Your attitude, personality, beliefs etc. are all of interest to the employer to decide how you’ll impact on the chemistry in their workplace and with the team of people you’ll potentially work with. It’s also a chance to elaborate on your experiences, so the employer can gauge how you’ll do in the future.

If you want to improve on your interview performance, do your homework. Research the company, find out who the interviewers will be ahead of time and look them up on the company website and/or their LinkedIn profiles. Find out how the organization is performing, current challenges, recent successes and something of their culture – what it’s like to actually work there.

Now this is going to put some people off because this sounds like a lot of work with no guarantee of a positive result. Consider however that if you do put in this effort, you’re ahead of those who don’t bother and it will show in the interview answers you give, and the comments and questions you pose yourself. Imagine putting a lot of time into researching ahead of 4 job applications/interviews; 3 of which don’t turn into a job offer, while the 4th one does. You’ve had fail, fail, fail followed by success. This investment of your time sure beats the energy and time you’ll put into applying for 40 jobs, doing no research and wondering why no one will give you an interview. That’s fail x 40.

Now you can improve your chances of performing well in a job interview if you go into it ahead of time having prepared yourself with specific examples that respond to the questions you’ll be asked. You CAN predict with a high degree of accuracy what you’ll be asked before you even step in the interview room. How? Read the job posting, highlight what it is they are looking for, what you’ll actually do in the job and especially look for anything that is repeated in the posting. If problem solving comes up 3x in a posting, it stands to reason that’s a significant part of the job.

Okay so you’ve highlighted what they want. Great start! Now, to prepare yourself, start writing down the details about times in your past work experiences where you’ve actually done the things this new employer is looking for. In other words, write out a specific time when you solved a problem, making sure you include how you sized up the situation, what you actually did and include the positive outcome such as keeping an angry customer, getting praise from the boss or selling something in addition to the original purchase. Don’t generalize how you usually do things; specific examples are so much more believable.

Of course your answers are huge, but don’t overlook the importance of making a strong visual presentation. In other words, let’s not overlook your appearance. Do what you can NOW to improve on your looks. Get a haircut, shave, get into proper fitting clothes, the type of which would be a step up from what you’d wear to the job. Your choice of clothes tells the interview at a first glance how seriously you take the interview and a degree of your intelligence and respect for the process.

Walk with purpose, stand with both feet equally planted on the floor, not off-balanced on one leg. Sit slightly forward, show interest and enthusiasm for what’s being discussed, smile, look people in the eye, extend your hand and be friendly. Basics for sure, but not to be overlooked and assumed as common sense.

A conversation with an employer about an opportunity is again how I suggest you go into the interview. This should be a positive exchange of information. You’ve got more control in this whole process than you might imagine, right up to deciding if you want the job or not. Your performance influences the outcome, and in a nutshell, that’s the point of this meeting.

Must Work Be Meaningful? To Whom?


I wonder if you’ve ever been advised to find a line of work where you can really find a strong sense of meaning in the work you’ll do? This advice typically is followed up with the promise that finding meaning in the work you’ll do will make whatever you’re doing rewarding; and in it being rewarding and meaningful, you’ll enjoy it  and life in general more.

It’s not bad advice really. There are many people who’d agree, if for no other reason than we spend a lot of our waking hours at work, and as all those hours add up, we’d best all be doing something meaningful to justify the investment of time.

However, the downside of this advice is that there are many people who don’t look to find meaning in the work they do, they just happily go in day in and day to work. Telling such people they’ll be happier searching for work they find real meaning in doing might just result in giving them something to worry or stress about. And who is to say that the meaning you might derive from one job over another would be similarly felt by someone else; say your daughter or son? How many mothers or fathers have hoped that their children would follow in their footsteps and have the same career as themselves, only to have their children choose other lines of work?

If you’re so inclined, you might realize too that people change. The job we found meaning in when we were 20 something might hold that meaning for 5 or so years, and then we suddenly realize one day that it’s been awhile since we really felt it as truly rewarding and meaningful. If this is the case, how do we go about finding a career in our late teens and early 20’s that we’ll find genuinely meaningful for the next 45 or 50 years?

Well, don’t fret about it. First of all it’s highly probable and natural that as you become exposed to different jobs and careers over the course of your life, you’ll find some of those jobs intriguing; perhaps enough to go after them. Changing jobs within our field is something many of us do, changing our field of interest entirely is also something not all that uncommon. It’s called evolution; becoming exposed to something new, finding real interest in it, doing what it takes to qualify yourself and working a plan to one day be in that new role.

Yet, while it’s natural then for many to want to do work that they find meaning in, is there anything wrong with doing work that one doesn’t find meaningful? Do you know anyone who when asked why they do what they do replies, “It’s a pay cheque”? I mean there has to be a number of people who are doing jobs quite competently; but for whom the concept of doing meaningful work isn’t important. And because we are all so very different on this planet, it’s impossible to take a career – any career – as an example of a job that no one finds meaning in.

You might think a Cashier, a Waiter/Waitress, Server etc. might not find any meaning in the work they do; that it’s got to be just a job until a career comes along. You’d be wrong though. There are obviously more people than you’d guess who do find great meaning in these jobs, and what’s more, their not deluding themselves; they see themselves as providing a service to others. Further, they wouldn’t want it any other way. Maybe they could make more income doing other things, but perhaps they don’t take home excessive worries and stresses that go with some jobs you’d tout as more meaningful.

Whose perspective are we talking about here anyhow? Yours or theirs? Projecting our own ideals and values onto others, saying that one job is more meaningful than another is something we should be careful of. When we tell our son or daughter that a Teacher’s job is meaningful; more meaningful than say a Crossing Guards, we transfer our own value system. If they go on to be a Teacher we’re happy. If however, they happily become a Crossing Guard and find meaning and happiness in that role, have we now sent that message that somehow their choice of career is a disappointment to us? Is that what we want or intended to do?

Conversely, if they get ulcers and migraines – growing old before their time – fighting with and climbing over others on the way to some career which robs them of much of their personal time; missing family occasions because of work, will we find it okay to console ourselves by saying, “but the work is meaningful and important.”

Important… maybe that’s it. Could it be that when we say find work that’s meaningful, what we’re really doing is saying, find work that’s important, and then by association you’ll be important too? If that’s the case, what message are we sending if the work isn’t important in our eyes? Do we really mean that they are only important if what they do is important?

So what’s the goal? Find work that is meaningful and if so to whom? Happiness? Sufficient income? Security? Challenge and reward? There are a lot of different values we could and do place on jobs and the people who do them. Something to think about.

 

2018: It’s Here!


Yesterday was New Year’s Day and today is day 1 of the ‘work’ year. For me personally, there is a huge contrast in the two; yesterday was sitting and reading a book I got for Christmas, snacking more than I should normally do, and generally relaxing. Today, it’s up and at ’em, back to the blog, shower and dress, make breakfast and out the door to work all day.

As the days of 2017 counted down, did you find yourself consciously putting things off until the new year? You know, job searching; updating your résumé, (yet again!) applying for jobs? Well, it’s here and so it’s time to get going. I hope you’re fired with enthusiasm for changes and the hard work it takes to ultimately be successful. I truly hope you have the stamina to put in the necessary effort and sustain it, and of course I really do want you to succeed.

It’s hard at this time of the year for many to get going though; well for very long at least. Here in Canada we’re under a prolonged deep freeze where the temperatures are with wind chills in the minus 20 – minus 30 range. The days are short on sunlight and the snow has been more plentiful than in past years. Staying inside is tempting; reading as I’ve done for pleasure, or perhaps your own Christmas gifts have your attention (or over-attention as the case may be).

While you may have resolved to put more effort into your job search for the new year, please don’t make the mistake of setting yourself up with lofty expectations you’ll likely not meet. Doing so can have the reverse effect upon you, when you falter, have a setback or two and lean towards chucking the thing in once more. Yes, you don’t want to expect yourself to put in a solid 7 or 8 hours straight every day, nose to the grindstone and then when you slip up a bit, chastise yourself for your failings and give up entirely. This can lead to self-deprecation, low self-esteem, depression and despair.

It’s the balance you’re looking for I suggest. You know better than anyone what your effort in 2017 was really like. You know the help you sought out or didn’t, the advice you failed to follow or the shortcuts you thought in your wisdom would do the same things as taking the longer but probably more effective way to get things done. Nobody knows you like you know you!

Yes, balance is the key. So yes, 2018 will require some effort on your part and perhaps more of a commitment to your end goals. This could mean more work, less play for many, or it could mean just shifting your play time without diminishing it. So rather than saying you’ll give up movies, reading for pleasure, playing games entirely or ignoring the lure of your hobbies and interests until you get a job, (because this won’t work), you could just reallocate your time spent doing these things.

Setting aside ‘play time’ will allow you to enjoy it more when it comes anyhow. So if you love heading to the basement to do some woodworking and it takes some time to set things up, do what you love and then more time to clean up after, give yourself an afternoon say twice a week to do so; and ENJOY it guilt-free. After all, you don’t want to feel distracted with guilt doing something you love, which robs you of the very pleasure you find in it.

You may or may not be in a place to turn your love for your hobby into a job (had you thought of that?), or you might not want to – keeping your hobby and your work separate and apart to unwind and keep the fun of what you love doing.

Now when you’re having your, ‘you time’; immersed in what brings you happiness and contentment, don’t overdo it. If you can discipline yourself to getting back to the job search as you intended to, you’ll ultimately be happier with yourself. You don’t want to feel bad after all that you’re shirking your job search time while you’re trying to enjoy reading that book, sewing or whatever it is you enjoy. That feeling of, “I should be looking for work” will rob you of your concentration and you’ll feel distracted.

So what you might do is begin with a schedule. Whether you set up an alert on your phone, write things down on paper or set an alarm clock, do whatever it takes for you to stay on track of your intended schedule – just as you would do if you were employed. Factor in a couple of breaks and lunch, and where possible, get outdoors for some fresh air at some point too. Good for the spirit, the lungs and the body.

As for the job search? Well, how’s it going? Is a change in strategy needed or are you getting close doing what you’re doing? If you want better results than what you ended 2017 with, then maybe you need a different way of going about things. Read a current book on job search techniques, learn something new about your field of interest, take a course, consult with a job search expert or have your résumé reviewed at the least.

2018; this is YOUR year! All the very best wishes for success!