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Job Search and Self Discipline

One of the frustrating things about parenting is walking the tightrope between love and discipline. As many students home for the summer or new grads camping out until they find employment will tell you, parents never seem to get over overparenting. In a classic case of irony, I can remember objecting to overprotective parents and then missing that when I was out on my own. Becoming a parent myself was an eye opener. As if there is some cosmic script that makes us all follow the same pattern I found myself to be the master of parental hovering. I don’t remember the date but I do remember my words when in a moment of frustration I preached at my son, “Why do I always have to tell you what is right? Self discipline means that you can make your own decisions without somebody else having to tell you what to do!” A moment of silence followed. We both realized that this was a turning point. His look told me that he understood. I suddenly felt that I was doing the right thing by releasing him to make his own mistakes and learn from experience. I also realized that I had not only defined self discipline to my son but had set a new standard for myself as well.

Discipline implies enforcing rules. Self discipline begins with determining an individual measure of the rules of right and wrong. If there is such a thing as a values inventory within a person, this must be considered the standard. Obeying these guidelines means that a person is able to resist the temptation for fleeting emotions, self gratification and pleasure. It will not work unless there is a commitment to overrule emotions with logical thought and action. Circumstances do not change the standards of self discipline.

Regardless of the age or maturity level of a job seeker, self discipline is the tool that keeps things on track. There will be an emotional roller coaster of events to lure the most diehard people into the darkness of despair on the downside or the unrealistic euphoria on the upside. Neither is real. Choosing to take either extreme as a measure of failure or success is losing sight of long term goals. Each step of the way will present data points to measure progress and it is a disciplined analysis and planning of next steps that result in reaching the destination.

It helps to listen to encouragement from well meaning friends and professionals who care about your success, but in fact that too is accepting a temporary emotional fix to get you through a tough moment. These interactions are necessary, but cannot be the reason to go on. Smile with the knowledge that no small loss is a sign of total doom and that people are pulling for you. It is good to know that you never have to do it alone, but somewhere there has to be a disciplined voice telling you that in spite of the advice from well wishers it is you alone who makes the final decision regarding the next path to take.

An old worn out cliché tells us that a job search is a full time job. That doesn’t mean that it should be an overriding obsession that totally consumes your life. It does mean that you plan your actions as you would in your work life and discipline yourself to continue to work efficiently and effectively. Here is today’s Top Ten Steps to a Successful Job Search:

  1. Keep a regular schedule with your job search activities and “go to work” every day. Get up, get dressed and be mentally prepared to take on the challenges of the day. Keeping a work-like calendar, journal, to-do-list and monitoring system is essential.  
  2. Maintain your physical strength through the search. This means sleep, food and exercise are of primary importance. It is not a time to let old demons creep in to take over, so creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important.
  3. Enjoy social contacts and use networking as a means to expand your circle of people you can actually meet, shake hands and engage in dialog. It doesn’t matter if conversations are casual rather than “business” because this all contributes to a more positive network. It also adds to a feeling of confidence and progress.
  4. Be conscious of your mental health. It is perfectly normal for people to have temporary periods of anxiety, but clinical depression is not something that can be handled without professional medical help. No amount of self discipline can fix a mental disease any more than it can repair a ruptured appendix. There is no failure or shame in fixing the problem. On the contrary it is a sign of acknowledging self worth that makes the ultimate goals more attainable.
  5. Never, NEVER take anybody’s top ten list to be the map for YOUR job search. Accept guidance when necessary but recognize that half (or more) of the steps to success will be based on your personal goals and objectives. It will be different for every individual. What are YOUR five steps to complete the list?
  6. [My step six]
  7. [My step seven]
  8. [My step eight]
  9. [My step nine]
  10. [My step ten…and maybe more…only David Letterman is required to have only ten]

Self discipline requires a target or a goal to achieve for every act. Actions that produce the desired goals must be determined by logic rather than emotions. Everyone has the right to choose their own values and establish the means for turning off the emotional switch when necessary. This does not mean that life is all seriousness and no fun, but it does mean that the enforcer of discipline must require balance…whether it is a parent or that internal parental voice talking.


Image credit: Emotion Switch eteimaging / 123RF Stock Photo



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