Step 5 to a Happy Career: Action

Work by Hamza Butt of Flickr

Nothing feels better than when you are facing a challenge or trying to achieve something by taking action. But does taking any old action make a difference? Or does it have to be the right one? The answer is they are both right.

You may have of heard of a phenomenon called “analysis paralysis.” That is when you think through all of your actions so carefully that you scare yourself out of taking that action. Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum where you act before you think and then your actions can actually have negative consequences and put you further away from your goal. There are so many benefits to being in action, however, there is such a thing as a wrong action, and if you are uncertain what the right action is, the best first action is to ask for help.

There is a right and a wrong way to ask for help. The wrong way is to obligate anyone to help you. Depending on the volume of help that you need, you may also use the wrong medium, and that is a more difficult thing to understand. Everyone has their own preferences about communication. Some people in the professional world would rather you not find them on Facebook to ask them for help. Keeping that in mind, you might be starting to see why there’s so much to consider and some people spend so much time in consideration that they do not act. Let me go back to the benefits of action.

When you act, you let the world know that you are serious about what you want. It is not always true, but most commonly people do not receive the help that they need and ask for because they have not inspired people to believe that they will follow through and make them look good. When you think about it, most of what we do all day, every day is to make ourselves look good, or make someone else look bad. Hopefully, we do not spend as much time doing the latter, but if you have been in a CYA corporate environment, you know that making other people look bad is sometimes how you survive. It is an awful existence, and nobody needs to spend their days that way, because they have options. However, these types of environments can do a lot to diminish your belief in better things.

That is when people get stuck, like my mom. That was one of the major reasons this line of work resonated so strongly with me. I get to help people renew their hope and get into companies that have more nurturing conditions where they can thrive. There is also the benefit of pride. There is so much that can happen in a job search that can make you feel bad. When you take action, you feel like you are doing something to make your situation better and that feeling can develop into greater confidence and self-worth. These are two things you need in order to convince an employer to hire you. However, when you take action and have high volumes with your results, it can actually have the opposite effect and make you feel worse.

There are five different categories of action that you can take that will move you toward greater opportunity. Any given day you can decide that you are up to tackle one of these kinds of activities, or you can do all five in one day and really feel accomplished. The key to this, just like anything, is balance – do not rely on any one kind of activity too heavily; they all need your attention and action.

 

  1. Administration

You need to have systems in place to track your activities and you need to actually input those activities in order to see where you can make improvements and get better results.

 

  1. Research

Before you even ask for help, you need to understand who you are asking, what their experience and expertise is, and what kinds of things they have going on that you can provide value for. You may even be able to discern how this person prefers to be contacted based on what they say or share. If there are several options, pick the one with the least volume. Other things we can research include potential careers, positions, and companies. Find out what a day in the life of someone whose footsteps you want to follow in is like. This research does not have to be purely online, in fact, the more you get away from your computer, the better. Head to the library and read a biography. Attend a professional organizations event and come with questions.

Asking questions is a deceivingly simple action, but actually doubles as massive action, which is the next type of action.

 

  1. Massive action

This could really be any action that requires you to have courage and be bold. While it is recommended that you make research the step before this action to make sure that your action is as strategic and effective as possible, this is something that you want to do at least weekly. For most people this means picking up the phone. The action should scare you and excite you at the same time. Not only is it intended to help you make quantum leaps toward your intended goal, but it is also intended to expand your comfort zone and test yourself. If the phone just seems way too scary, then pick an action that isn’t as scary and build up to the phone. For instance, send someone a direct message through social media. I would advise against sending an email, even if it is something that you find to be uncomfortable, simply because it is such a non-urgent form of communication, and some people like short emails while others want you to tell a compelling story. It is too easy to spend a lot of time crafting an email, get no response, and make that mean that you are not worthy of a response. If the phone is easy for you, do something in person, or whereas you might feel comfortable reaching out to a director or VP, reach out to a C-level executive.

Before you take action, set your intention. Know and visualize clearly the outcome that you want. Determine that it will happen. If you need to, remind yourself of all of the great value that you have the potential to offer.

It may help you to practice what you were going to say, and you can also over-practice what you were going to say. It does not really matter what words you use as much as it matters where are you are coming from when you speak. When you come from a place of high confidence and intention for the highest good, the right words tend to naturally follow, and they flow with powerful heart-felt inspiration that leads people to know you are serious and want to take action on your behalf.

 

  1. Network Nurturing

Do something to help someone in your network without the expectation that it will be returned. This could be making an introduction for someone else, sharing a resource, sending relevant news or articles, or letting people know about an event. It could also be a random act of kindness. Volunteering is absolutely one of the best ways to satisfy this action. You may think that your volunteering has to have something to do with your profession, but, in fact it does not. However, I will say that the better volunteering opportunities are the ones that enable you to interact with people and work on a team. Perhaps you can even be the one that organizes a community event. If you do this, then your massive action can actually be combined by having a conversation with someone there about your goal. Just make sure that the conversation is actually satisfying that action- what you do for others is the number one agenda.

 

  1. Take Care of You

Some may argue that YOU should come before nurturing your network, just as they teach you on the airplane to put the mask on yourself before you help other people. If that resonates as true for you, then do that. I did not put this item last because it is the least important. I simply put it last because I’m planning your week, most people use Friday as a day for personal things, and if you are doing one thing per day, Thursday would be the better day to nurture your network. However, it is worth noting that you can evaluate your own cycles of high and low energy to determine when you do different types of action. For instance, massive action requires high energy. Maybe you have the highest energy on Friday. I have actually had more personal success reaching and engaging VIPs on Fridays.

Taking care of yourself can look like doing yoga, watching your favorite show, having tea or a drink with a friend, taking a nap, playing an instrument, coloring, seeing a concert, calling your best friend far away… I think you get it. It could really be anything that makes you feel alive.

Yes, as you probably guessed, the importance of this is to replenish yourself, but it is also important because the more time you spend happy, the more your chances of success increase.

We used to recommend number five as a reward, but I learned from Gretchen Rubin that rewards are more effective than reinforcing positive habits when they are tied to the goal itself. So, if you seek to reward yourself for a week of great action, perhaps you can reward yourself with a nice pair of dress shoes for interviews, or invest in a personal brand touch up with us. You could reward yourself by getting a ticket to a high profile event or conference. There are things you can do that cost no money at all. A great way to come up with this type of reward is to think about what your ideal job could offer to your life, and sample that in some way. For instance, if what you are aspiring to have by landing a new job is more time with your kids, reward yourself by going on an adventure or playing a game with your kids. This type of reinforcement will produce good feeling hormones in your body and train your brain to condition you for even more action. In other words, implementing a reward system will help you form better habits.

For a better idea of how these five activities could look in your schedule, refer to this blog post.

It is unfortunate that so many people do not reach out for help from someone like me because they know that they have been making very strong efforts, so they conclude that I do not have the results that they want, or there are external conditions that they cannot control. Unfortunately, they are destined to stay stuck. The ones who actually do change their situations are the ones that recognize that they need to do something differently; I learned specifically what the most effective different things to do are. If you are unsure, ask. You can even ask me.

 

If you want to know if you have been doing something wrong, take action and have a free consultation with me.

 

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