Having a tough time? Let’s work through it together.
I was breaking the millennial mold! I purchased my first home two years ago, at 23 years old. I held an awesome position with a company I loved. I was supported with love by my girlfriend and family. I was paying down debt and investing my earnings. I was making smart, calculated plans for my future.
Then, one day in November, it came to a grinding halt when I got that call from my boss. “At this time, we have to part ways.” I remember sitting at my kitchen table thinking “well….now what?” I was ashamed, embarrassed, and scared. I was in shock. It was the first time I’d ever had to label myself as ‘terminated.’ What a word, right? TERMINATED! It makes me think about Arnold Schwarzenegger on his motorcycle, pointing that sawed-off shotgun and saying “Hasta la vista…baby!” And then pulling the trigger.
A wave of emotion washed over me as I sat there wondering if I would have to sell my house and my car. I wondered if my girlfriend would abandon me and if my family would be embarrassed by me. I looked at my credit card statements and panicked when I saw the remaining balances vs. what was in my bank account. It was almost unbearable. At that moment, the outlook was bleak.
This is for anyone who is on-the-hunt for their next opportunity and challenge, just as I am. Or maybe you’re on-the-hunt for your first career opportunity out of college. Alternatively, if you’re at a low point in your life for whatever reason that may be; I’m here to share some of the things that have helped me remain positive and bright.
I want to share what I’ve learned along this journey because it’s a tough road and maybe these thoughts will help someone, somewhere. I’m not here to tell you how to job search. While I continue to learn and make progress every day, I’m still searching for that perfect career fit. The bright side: I’m confident that I am getting very close to finding it. I’m here to tell you that I have never had as much momentum and positive energy; I’ve never felt as alive and in tune with myself and my surroundings than I do right now. It’s important to me that I share these feelings and a couple tactics to help someone who might be struggling.
Your world isn’t over.
One of the best pieces of advice I received came from my father:
“This doesn’t define who you are. Your job didn’t define who you were. Who you are is defined by whatever YOU decide to be defined by.”
I allowed myself that Friday, and the weekend, to pity myself. I moped around; reminisced on how I could’ve done things differently; made different decisions, and played the ‘would’ve, could’ve, should’ve’ game in my head. I was with that company for five great years. It felt like a breakup. I thought my world was over. With one phone call, I became another jobless millennial.
Take the time to grieve. However, take a couple of days at most! If you take more than a couple of days, you risk getting sucked into a dark vortex of despair and depression that I’ve seen, first-hand, people do not recover from. Your world is not ending. In fact, you will see, your world just got a whole lot brighter.
Take some personal time.
Before you pound the proverbial pavement in search of a new career, take some time to yourself. Think of it like a mini-vacation…except you’re not getting paid. I took that next week to finish up some long-standing projects around the house, work in the yard, visit the park, and spend time with my family.
Do things that will keep your mind off of whatever it is that is affecting you. I won’t lie and say it’s easy – it’s definitely tough. I found myself constantly replaying the scenario over in my head. But, guess what? The outcome didn’t change. I was still terminated and jobless, and they were still moving on without me. By taking the time to do the things I enjoyed, it allowed my mind to see past the immediate pain and realize that my life wasn’t over. I could still enjoy myself and you can too.
Positive attitude = Positive results
I believe that having a positive attitude and positive outlook are keys for attaining positive results. The job hunt is proving to be a long, bumpy road. It is a rollercoaster of emotion. Some days I am carefree and light. I know that if I keep up the search, I will find the perfect career. I have great conversations with hiring managers and recruiters, do my follow up, and wait patiently for responses. Some days are very dark. I find myself falling back into the ‘world has ended, woe is me’ trap. I lay in bed, sleepless, wondering why companies haven’t called me back; wondering if I will have to sacrifice the progress I’ve made and start over in a different field.
One of the tactics I use to combat those dark feelings is daily, guided, meditation. There are plenty of (free) apps out there that help you along this journey. Personally, I use Headspace. I’ve developed a routine and take ten minutes each morning (I’m now on a 43-day streak) to center myself and meditate. It has done wonders for my attitude and I can confidently tell you that, now, there are a lot more good days than there are bad.
No matter how hard you try, there will be dark days. The trick is to acknowledge those dark thoughts (clouds), know that there is always clear, blue sky above the dark clouds, and let those negative thoughts pass. It took me about 20 sessions to train my mind to think in that way, and I’m glad I did. The payoff is huge.
Read a motivational book…you have the time!
I came downstairs one morning after the dark clouds had been looming in my mind to find some books that my girlfriend had pulled off of the shelf with a note attached to them. The note read: “Read these when your brain needs a break, they might make you smile.” Those books were ‘The Pig of Happiness‘, ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go’, and ‘The Success Principles‘. The first two books are great pick-me-ups for those dark days. I read them regularly.
I promise this article is not a shill, but I must tell you that ‘The Success Principles’ by Jack Canfield has completely transformed my life. I strongly recommend it to anybody who strives to be successful in their own way. I read it once last year and started halfway applying some of the principles. This time, I thought to myself ‘what do you have to lose by putting more effort into these?’ Challenging myself to do that has proven to be one of the best decisions I’ve made to-date. There are many principles that hit home with my current situation, and two key takeaways I want to share are these: The law of attraction and affirmations.
Simply put, the law of attraction means ‘like attracts like’. What you think and feel attracts exactly that. If you live in the ‘woe is me’ realm, then you will attract negative things that also live in that realm. Pain, suffering, debt, infidelity, etc. However, if you believe in yourself and believe that you are successful and great, you will attract things and people that help you to become more successful and great.
Daily affirmations are a great way to re-wire your brain from negative self-talk to positive self-talk. Again, very simply put: I think I am great, therefore I am great. Affirmations will help you smash limiting beliefs about yourself and help you achieve the can-do attitude that is necessary to succeed. Some of my affirmations include “I am taking 100% responsibility for my life,” “I am acknowledging the blessings in my life with gratitude,” and “I am acknowledging my own self-worth.” Seriously, though, read the book.
It is my goal to one day be an executive coach and have my own consulting firm, and the book has given me lots of ideas on how I can attain that goal. It can be applied to any number of goals and aspirations. And to Jack Canfield, if you ever read this, thank you for what you continue to teach me! I look forward to attending one of your seminars, soon!
We will achieve our goals with time, patience, and persistence!
I say ‘we’ because I still have a long road ahead of me to get to where I want to go, just as you might be facing similar challenges. We can be in this together. In one of the most divided times our nation has ever seen, the small number of us dedicated to making ourselves better and more successful will rise to the top, together! Those of you that can see past party affiliation and into the hearts of like-minded success-chasers, let’s make it happen! I hope you’ve found some of this useful, and I look forward to hearing about your journey to success, just as I look forward to sharing mine! I’ll leave you with this quote by Thomas Paine:
“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”