A revelation to me in my personal development journey was learning that we actually train others how to treat us. So, if you keep finding yourself on the receiving end of bullies or on the giving end of those who constantly take, the reason is: they have learned from you what is acceptable.
This fact can be a hard pill to swallow, but the sooner it is acknowledged, the sooner you can set new expectations on how you want to be treated. It may seem as though this could be difficult with the people closest to you, and easier for people you have yet to meet. The true challenge, however, is learning to treat yourself like you want to be treated.
Though it has taken me all summer, I have finally finished Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better than Before. In the last chapter she shared a strategy that she uses to keep herself on track toward her goals, which is to consult her inner manager. She is an upholder, which means her tendency is to only make commitments that she knows that she can keep, both to herself and others, and then to keep them. She is still subject to the self-talk that threatens to deviate her from her plan to achieve her goals, however. When that happens, she consults with her and her manager, who is both her boss and her employee.
When you are job searching, you are your own boss, even if you have a coach to help guide you in specific activities and to whom you can be accountable. It is still you everyday that must wake up and do what needs to be done, and still you who reaps the benefits, or suffers the consequences of not doing what needs to be done. More often than not, I have seen how job seekers make themselves suffer if they hit a slump, and this leads to a downward spiral. We are often harder on ourselves than we would be on someone else, or even than we would want someone else to be to us.
I know there are a lot of things to think about and do when you are searching for a job, but it can also be a great opportunity to learn new ways of treating yourself that can enable you to set better expectations for other people, including your future boss.
Here are five ways that during your job search you can be a kind manager to yourself:
- Set clear daily, weekly, and monthly goals
Last week I offered examples of SMART goals that will help you land. Feel free to use them for yourself or model your own SMART goals after them.
- Reverse-engineer and schedule your workflow
You may have heard the advice to treat your job search as if it is your job, which means most people tend to spend their 9-5 on searching. I am more of a proponent of working smart versus hard, a la Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek. If the SMART goals that you set are ones that do actually help you generate momentum, then managing a schedule is really more about allocating time for those activities, some of which may be in the evening. I truly believe that it is more about the quality of the time invested and not about the quantity. While it seems these days that people have to be on the clock outside of normal business hours, true work–life integration means being off the clock sometimes during normal business hours.
- Manage, track, measure, and improve
In business it is widely known that you cannot manage what you do not measure and you cannot measure what you do not track. What if the SMART goals that you set are not helping you build momentum? How will you know what to change or improve if you aren’t tracking your activities? This is exactly the reason that we offer our Epic Careering Tool Kit as part of our coaching programs and for individual sale. If you are your own boss, what matters most? That you are doing the activities that are supposed to get results, or that you are getting results? Ultimately, it is about the results – quality job interviews that lead to offers. Keep track of what you are doing so that you can identify what is working and what is not and make improvements that make a difference in your results.
- Take time for self-care
If you are working smarter rather than harder, that should leave you with some extra time. With this extra time, take care of the things that tend to weigh on your mind and zap your energy. This could be doctor’s appointments that you’ve been putting off or home projects. This could even mean confronting someone with whom you have had a conflict. If you find that you think about these things pretty regularly, take care of them and you will find that you feel lighter, have more energy and are more capable of showing up as your best self. Use this time to engage in activities that bring you joy, or try new things that might teach you something you have yet to discover about yourself.
Many people forego a vacation while they are job searching, but I can’t tell you how many times a client or friend returned to great news about a job offer after taking a vacation. Or they just generally felt more capable of taking on the challenge of landing their next career adventure.
Set clear boundaries on your time, which requires clarity on what is most important to you. If you better understand why these boundaries exist, you can more confidently enforce them with yourself and with other people. Remember, if you do not respect your own boundaries, no one else will.
“There’s a place in you that you must keep inviolate, you must keep it pristine, clean, so that nobody has the right to curse you or treat you badly. Nobody – no mother, no father, no wife, no husband – nobody, because that may be the place you go to when you meet God. You have to have a place where you say ‘stop it. Back up.’
“Say no, when it is no. Say so. Back it up,” Angelou continued. “Because that place has to remain clean and clear.”
- Celebrate and reward good performance
Celebrate every little victory. The more your brain associates good feelings with the activities that you need to do, the easier it will be to form good habits around those activities, whether you believe they are enjoyable or not. You could use Gretchen Rubin’s strategy of pairing, meaning combine the activities that you do not enjoy so much with activities that you do enjoy, such as listening to music while you do research, or coloring while you make phone calls.
One thing that keeps me from getting sucked into social media distraction while I’m working is to use checking Facebook as a reward for finishing my most critical to-dos. This also helps me associate checking Facebook with good feelings, as opposed to the guilt I might feel if I’m doing it instead of what I’m supposed to be doing. The better I feel, the stronger my will is to continue with good habits and abstain from bad ones.
I encourage you to evaluate whether you have been a good boss or bad boss to yourself. Perhaps you have been too hard on yourself, or perhaps you have not been expecting enough of yourself. Give to yourself what you feel you have been missing. Treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Once you learn how to set and enforce high expectations of respecting yourself, you will be much more capable of training others, including your next boss, to treat you with the same level of respect.