FOUR TIPS TO REDUCE THE STRESS OF JOB SEEKING
The four tactics that I have used during my career to reducing stress while changing jobs: exercise, reading, writing, coach
Exercise is proven to reduce stress. A few years ago, I had just had my former employer, Arthur Andersen, collapsed under my feet. Another firm acquired my division, and my new role was in a technical area that was new to me. I had enormous pressure to succeed or be sacked.
My project was in Flagstaff, Arizona, and my team was intelligent, energetic, and new to their roles. The workweeks were long with flights into Phoenix and then a two-hour drive at night to be on-site for an early morning start. The workdays were also long, but the team and I always found time for a meal and a workout. Before this, I told anyone who would listen that I hated running and not a “gym rat." By the time the project ended eight months later, I was both a runner and a “gym rat." Getting out into the clean mountain air after work helped all of the stress melt away. I continued running throughout my career to cope with stress.
I won’t bore you with all of the research to support the benefits of exercise in coping with stress, but invite you to do your experiment. For one week, go for a walk or run every morning to start your day and keep a diary of how you feel throughout the day. The next week go for a walk or run every evening after you finish your work and keep a log of how you feel. Choose which one works for you and keep track of your stress levels by simply writing down in the evening a number on a calendar between 1 and 10, with 1 indicating very low stress and ten being very high stress. Then adjust your routine to see how you can get the numbers to go down and stay down. What you measure will change.
Reading Can Help You Decompress
Reading books on strategic thinking and novels can provide a simple way to get your stress levels to decrease. Once, I faced a challenging person who was bent on destroying our project and our credibility by lying and deceit. I began reading the Art of War by Sun Tzu. One of the things that has stuck with me for years was the recommendation never to corner an opponent, leaving no avenue for escape. The result is that your opponent will fight harder and stronger because they have nothing left to lose. That little piece of wisdom helped me successfully navigate a very tricky business problem. Find an inspiring book to read about business, history, or leadership and read a couple of pages a day.
Writing is Therapeutic
My five-year contract in Australia was coming to an end, and I needed to find a new position somewhere in the world during the Great Recession of 2008. I had a new boss, and my mentor was gone. My department’s work had all but dried up, and the pressure to find new clients was intense—lots of stress.
I developed a routine of starting my day early. I sat in a coffee shop and spent about 45 minutes each morning writing in a notebook my ideas, concepts, thoughts, and plans. This simple routine got me through the day, through the stress, and I still have that notebook with over a hundred pages of ideas.
I found it helpful to disconnect myself from technology by using pen and paper. Along the way, I made lists. List are valuable for two reasons: first, a list helps you stop continually cycling through thoughts, and second, a list gives you a simple roadmap of things you want to accomplish. Being paperless, I transcribed all of my lists into an Excel or Word format and always took a photo of the notes. Then I could throw them away and decluttered when I wanted.
Never underestimate the power of simple routines to create calm in your hectic life. Try spending at least 20 minutes every morning thinking about whatever you want to accomplish in your life. More importantly, write down the things that you want to achieve on this particular day. By taking control of your day from the start, you relieve significant pressure caused by the uncertainty and unknowns in life.
Bounce Ideas Off a Coach
My clients have found comfort in having a career coach help them through their process of getting hired. As a certified coach, I have worked with more than 500 individuals to help them progress their careers. I believe in the power of coaching. Coaching unlocks success and helps deliver meaningful results in challenging environments.
A coach can provide personalized guidance on meaningful job search strategies, resume and cover letter writing, career transitions, difficult conversations, team trust development, create ongoing, practical personal focus. Everyone has the resources within themselves to make meaningful changes and enhance their career. A coach’s role is to catalyze the change that let people expand their strengths and focus their energy.
So when you are hunting for a new job, thinking of changing your career or trying to excel in your current role, you are likely to experience some stress. Experiment with reading, writing, exercise, and speaking with a coach to help smooth the journey.