Ways to sparkle and keep your motivation in tough times

My old college roommate recently asked me if she still has the “shine” factor. On a quest for a new job in this difficult market, she wanted to know if she embodied that “sparkle” she used to have when we were just entering the workforce after graduation. As a career coach and former recruiter, I advised her that to be a star and advance in this current economy, she may need to pull out some extra glitter and go well beyond the normal call of duty. Here are some other tips I shared with her:

1. Watch after your health. Our bodies reflect how we feel about ourselves. If you are extremely overweight, tired, stressed or sick, your energy level is depleted and your appearance suffers. This has a negative impact during meetings or interviews. Our food choices, sleep patterns and exercise regimens are either effective or limiting actions that we take with respect to keeping a healthy physical self. Get proper rest, hydration, nutrients and activity. Every single day.

2. Practice simplicity. Most people try to do too much. At any given time, I can manage doing two things “right” with my full attention in the course of a day. Everything else is being done “o.k.” at best. Learn to say “no-thanks” to friends, habits, situations, committees, t.v., the web- to anything that is a distraction from your ability to devote yourself to your main goal. Take turtle steps forward to secure momentum around finding that next job.

3. Focus on the big rocks. Make a plan and then work the plan. But do not get stuck in “the weeds” by checking off the simple tasks each day, even if, in the short term, it feels more satisfying. If you’ve created goals in terms of your search, tackle the most difficult tasks initially. Ask yourself, “What projects are absolutely vital?” or “What calls do I need to make?” and then tend to those matters first.

4. Get out. Plan your week’s worth of appointments on Sunday night and show up for each and every engagement the following week. There is no substitute for meeting people in person and for gathering information in a live exchange. People like to hire people they have met, or that their peers personally recommend. Consider every encounter with a new prospect as a chance to network. Stay positive and upbeat and remain curious. Smile.

5. Read up. Another way to shine is to know a bit of industry news beyond your personal resume. Read all of the papers you can, scan company press releases, detail corporate profiles, research trends and do not be afraid to ask questions. Often times, hiring managers invite back candidates who appear hungry and have “both elbows on the table” during interviews.

6. Practice gratitude. Extend appreciation to anyone who shares information with you. Even if you receive rejection, write a letter to the interviewer letting them know that you are grateful for their time and attention. Cultivate an abundance mentality within yourself. Imagine a positive outcome and then act “as if” it already exists. Try to spend a few minutes each morning setting your intention for the day, after you’ve given thanks for the many blessings you already have.

7. Look to the stars. Pay close attention to those professionals in your industry who are thriving during these tough times and model their success. Seek out experts (or coaches) of character, and pattern yourself on their actions, thoughts and beliefs. Study and emulate the attitudes of your sector’s most popular executives.

8. Focus on spirit. Spend time with anyone or anything that enables you to feel more connected with your loving self. This may include your spouse, children, grandparents, friends, the dog, nature, church, water. Whatever is a spirit “opener” for you, get your arms around it, as it will help you to stay centered and boost your energy. Let go of anything that does not directly feed your soul.?

With all of these steps, take your time. One of the challenges in transitioning to a new role is the ability to sustain enthusiasm. People suffer breakdowns when trying to stay the course on finding the next best job, often because they feel overwhelmed. Do not fall at the first hurdle during the search. A deep level of shine is maintained by thinking long-term change, rather than on short-term achievements. Practice self-care and honor your core values as you stay proactive.

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