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Avoid the Nefarious Rabbit Holes

It’s easy to be active and not productive when you dive into a career transition. There are so many factors to consider that at times it can seem overwhelming. This can lead to time/energy draining work that doesn’t serve the long-term goal: creating your new career. Here a few time sucking rabbit holes that people commonly stumble into and how to side step them.

Rabbit Hole #1: Not setting a time frame.

The final step in the classic S.M.A.R.T. goal plan is “Time Bound.” (The others are Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Realistic.) Like air in a balloon, tasks tend to take up as much time as we give them. When there are no bookends to a task, it can take hours or even days to finish. Or in the worst-case scenario, it never gets done.

Side Step Strategy:

For every step of your career transition, give yourself a deadline for completing the task. Or if it is a project that will take several days or weeks, schedule chunks of time to work on it and decide what you want to get done in each chunk. Even self-imposed deadlines can be effective in forwarding the goal.

Rabbit Hole #2: Perfectionism.

Job seekers will rework a resume or cover letter for weeks before sending it out. When you are spinning your wheels trying to make it “perfect,” you are also hiding it from the people best qualified to give you feedback: potential employers.

Side Step Strategy:

Decide the parameters for what it means to be finished. Be open to feedback and willing to make corrections. Putting on my pessimist hat for a moment, it’s VERY likely you are going to be applying for more than one job before your find the right one. Putting my optimist hat back on, this means you’ll have plenty of opportunity to adjust your resume as you go.

Rabbit Hole #3: No defined task.

A task on your job transition to-do list may be: I’m going to look for jobs. You sit down, open your laptop and dig in. All of a sudden, it’s hours later and you are looking as profiles of people you went to high school with trying to figure out why you didn’t study political science instead of psychology. This happens when you aren’t clear on what you are trying to accomplish.

Side Step Strategy:

Before you dig in to “work on your job search” be crystal clear on what you want to accomplish with this time. Are you looking on LinkedIn, Indeed, or Monster? How many jobs are you looking for? What kind of job? What will you do when you find the jobs you want to apply for?

What is the task? Why is it important and directly related to getting you a new career? Once you know what the task is and why it is important, you are set up for success.

Rabbit Hole #4: No Accountability.

When I ask my clients what was the most valuable thing they got out of coaching, they almost always say, “Accountability.” It is amazing what we will let ourselves get away with when no one is looking. We move the goal post a little closer, rationalize missed deadlines, and find excuses for just about anything. When you are in a career transition, you are only hurting yourself by not being accountable to your commitments.

Side Step Strategy:

Once you decide to do something and there is someone to hold you to it, your likeliness of success grows. You don’t need to hire a coach to create accountability (but I’d sure like it if you did!). Call up your best friend or ask your roommate. When they know that you know that they know that you know that you committed to doing something, you are much more likely to get it done.


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