How do you get back up when life knocks you down?
Look, I get it you have just come out of university, and you worked so hard for that degree, now you are waiting for that big break – your foot in the door, your passport to the future. So you start applying to jobs, hopeful that you’ll get something soon; time passes and you find yourself still applying, feeling doubtful and almost defeated. You just spent the last however many years studying to get your degree, just so you can be qualified for the role you are applying to and your heart sinks when you get that ‘Unfortunately… We are looking for x amount of years experience.‘ Or no response, no reply, and no way for you to follow up and get the much-needed feedback on what to improve on. It really takes a toll on your self-esteem and makes you think after a while; ‘What’s the point?‘ Well, I’m here to tell you I’ve been there and I’m going to give you four tips to hopefully keep you motivated when you are feeling down on your luck so you can keep trying to get that job.
Tip 1: The holy trinity.
Motivation, Habits, and Discipline.
These are the three things you should apply in all aspects of your life, and job searching is no exception. But, the question is how do you get it?
First, I think it’s really important to understand you are only human. You aren’t a perfect creation or a robot. So, you will not always be happy, excited, or even motivated. Nobody just wakes up motivated or disciplined.
Let’s start small and work our way up. Think about all the things you do in your life already. Everyday. Without thinking you just wake up and eat breakfast. Or brush your teeth and shower. You might do these things in a different order. You’ve developed a habit from doing the same thing every day that now it’s part of your daily routine. You don’t even need to be told. As a result, it’s an act of discipline because you know what will happen if you don’t do these daily things. I feel sometimes we associate discipline with something negative, like for example, every time you do something wrong you gonna scolded/in trouble with your parents. In certain households this is true. But discipline is an act of practising something because if you don’t something else, possibly negative, will happen. Feel free to test this theory. Don’t shower for a week. Or stop brushing your teeth for a week. See what happens at your own risk of course. This all motivates you to keep doing it because well you want to be clean and these are fundamentals that you have to teach your brain. It begins with developing habits. We all know the saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. That’s not true but it’s a very difficult task in trying to teach this old dog. Here’s what I’m getting at, start by developing good habits, things that you will do every day until you reach your goal. Whether that’s going to bed earlier or setting your alarm so you don’t sleep in. Organise your day and fill your day with productivity. Every little helps and it all helps you develop a healthy mind frame. Write down habits that you want to implement in your life and every month work towards achieving them. It might seem mundane but you’ll be surprised at how waking up earlier, making your bed, cleaning up your room, exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet, taking out time for job search, and taking out time for you, is a lot easier when done consistently. All these things are skills that are needed in the workplace and by building a solid foundation in your home when that job interview comes believe it or not employers would be very interested to know how you manage your home life as it gives a great indication of how you can manage life in the workplace. Like my dad always said ‘charity begins at home‘, so does the hard work! So get tip number one done, and spend the time to develop some good habits.
Tip 2: Drink more water.
That sounds silly. How does drinking water keep me motivated? Well, I’m using water as a euphemism but I mostly mean take care of yourself. Not just mentally. But every aspect of yourself. Don’t just spend all day, every day looking for work. Believe me, I’ve been there and it gets me nowhere. There are plenty of jobs out there and somewhere there is an employer that is looking for someone like you, but you will not find it if you are burnt out. It is easy to become morose in times like this, wondering why you can’t get a job and you will definitely have a hard time seeing an opportunity that’s right in front of you. But you probably won’t even get a chance to find out because your vision is clouded by negative thoughts. On top of doing the things in tip 1. Take care of your well-being, yourself, and your happiness. Looking for a job is never easy and it’s not the most enjoyable process. So here’s the part where you start organising your time and managing your day setting aside me-time or happy time. Whatever that is that could help make you feel good about waking up in the morning or when it’s all done it make you start afresh and go into job hunting with a new perspective. Take some time out of the day to do what you enjoy. Maybe do some baking, playing sports, watching some sports, etc. I would suggest Anime, but even I know once you start it’s really hard to tear away. Listen to some music – hell, watch a movie, get some popcorn, and spend 2 hours relaxing. I know it sounds bad and some people might make you feel bad because of this, but you (and everyone else) need to realise that your state of mind is the most important thing – more important than any job or all the money in the world. I wouldn’t suggest watching something that will make you sad or angry, don’t consume negativity. Instead, watch something inspiring, or something that would make you laugh, or just feel good about yourself. Save the dramatics for the weekends, and if tv is not your thing that’s okay – whatever makes you feel good. Think of other things that may bring about positive emotions for you and do that. Then organise time in your life to do it daily – not all the time though, because let’s be real if you are sitting down watching movies all day you will get nothing done, and in the long run you won’t be happy.
Tip 3: Change is a constant, utilise it.
My next tip is to utilise your time and don’t waste it. It’s all you have. If there’s one thing that’s constant in life, that’s change. I know the irony, but you can bet everything you own that change is one thing you don’t have control over so don’t fight it, use it to your benefit. I’m sure when you were fifteen you never imagined adulthood to hit you this hard, reality checking in and you realise ‘there are so many things that I now have to pay, I need a job’. It hits you even harder when you come out of university not knowing what’s next, and if you already knew what you wanted and you probably were expecting the job market to be easy. You’re probably realising that there are thousands of people just like you, searching for a job, and it is competitive. But it doesn’t have to be, it may seem hard, but it’s actually not, it’s just hard work. The work doesn’t stop after you finish school, in fact, it never stops because you never stop learning and you never stop reinventing yourself. Do you see how I moulded that all in with the talk of change? Well, it’s true. Every day you are growing and getting wiser, so be open to change – use the time to take on a course, learn a new skill, learn to play chess, or pick up a sport. Whatever you want to learn, whether it will benefit you by bringing you closer to your career, or opening you up to new hobbies. Whatever you decide, use your time to make you a better you, so that when an opportunity comes knocking you are ready. Ready to tell the employer when they ask you what did you do during the lockdown(s)? You can say I built a hotel using Lego pieces. Now that might sound ridiculous, but I can tell you countless skills that come from being able to do that – especially if you can say how long it took you. That sounds like a promising architect to me.
Tip 4: Live in the Present.
Here’s my last tip and one I want you to internalise and get used to adding it to your vocabulary and demeanour. The way you walk, move and speak. The importance of living in the present – yes, ‘The Power of Now’ – I know, it sounds like a book, but bear with me. I will not say practising positive thinking or being positive is the way to go because just like the first tip about motivation – we will not always be positive and we may not always see the bright side when things are looking dim. Hey, if that’s your personality embrace it! But I’m not telling you to embrace someone else’s personality or try being someone else. Being who you are is perfectly fine as long as you aren’t harming anyone, including yourself. Accept all the emotions you have and the thoughts you have. Some say they are negative thoughts I say they are just your thoughts – don’t cloud them with a fake sun, instead figure out why it’s there and find ways to overcome it. One thing that I found helps is speaking to someone, anyone who would listen actually. Luckily for you at Making The Leap there is always someone there to lend an ear. Don’t hide or feel ashamed to feel or think anything even if it is really questionable to some. The more you pretend or hide something the harder it gets to deal with and meanwhile, it just becomes a bad habit. So, practice living in the now. Not tomorrow or yesterday, or 500 years ago or 20 years from now. Live in the present, prepare for the future, and learn from the past. Stop feeling bad about the interview you messed up in or the application that didn’t get through. Instead, ask for feedback; some may offer it, some may not. Ask for help from those around or even organisations like MTL who’s Career Champions are there to help with all things jobs, especially with applications, mock interviews, and feedback. Do all of this and with every challenge go into it with the intention to succeed and make preparations to do so. It’s okay if you didn’t get it, but find out what went wrong, learn from it and get ready to prepare for the next one. Like we went through in tip 2 change is constant so don’t dwell on what has already happened. You know the saying ‘no use crying over spilt milk‘. Well, the same applies here. There is an opportunity for you and if you work on bettering yourself and growing, becoming the person you want to be. Someone will take notice of your achievements, because who doesn’t want a Lego building, hygienic, chess-playing, economics graduate? Okay, that sounds silly on your cv but in corporate terms that would be translated as an attentive, problem solving, organised, strategist, with a degree in economics. Those skills are pretty fantastic if I say so myself.
Good luck! And I hope these tips can help you succeed.