Reality Check: At the mercy of events?

Whether you are on the search for your first job or your fifteenth, during the job-hunt process, you’ll likely experience both encouraging and disheartening events. Those events can trigger feelings: excitement and optimism after a good interview; distress and discouragement after less encouraging experiences.

Must one’s emotional state be completely at the mercy of external events?

Katie is searching for her first “real” job, and she knows what she wants. Along with providing the money that she needs, this job must also carry “grown-up” status and respect. Katie wants to be able to respond confidently when asked, “What do you do?”

Weeks ago, Katie was interviewed for what seemed like her dream come true. The job sounded exciting, the interviewers were enthusiastic; everything seemed perfect. Katie waited breathlessly for a call. And she waited. When she finally mustered her courage to call, she learned that they had hired someone else; they just hadn’t gotten round to sending her rejection letter yet.

Katie was devastated. In her mind, she had already pictured her new life—travel, training, prestige. Now, it’s gone and no other job can compare.

Katie spent time depressing: moping and crying. After the shock of having her dream disappear, those behaviours did relieve some tension. Now, even though Katie knows that continuing to depress is not helpful, she’s having trouble getting out of her emotional slump.

What can she do? According to Choice Theory, we can influence our emotions through our actions and thoughts. So Katie asked herself, “What actions will help?”

Funny how it’s often easier to identify actions that aren’t helpful, isn’t it? Katie immediately recognized one action that’s not working. Since her setback, she’s been spending hours watching afternoon TV. As employers have not been lining up in her living room to offer her a dream job, she knows the TV-watching has to change.

Katie decided to make a plan of actions to replace her TV-watching hours. She determined that she would customize her resume for one new employer every day, visit that employer, and follow up on two job ads.

The specific actions that Katie chooses are up to her. The key is to choose actions that lead in the right direction.

Katie knows that she also needs to work on her thoughts. It can be truly difficult to think positively when events seem to conspire against you. Katie chose a three-pronged approach:

First, she asked her most positive, enthusiastic friend to act as her “coach” through this tough patch. Her friend agreed that whenever Katie needs a boost, she can give her a call.

Second, Katie went to the library and checked out the most uplifting books she could find, focusing on gratitude, positive thinking, and inspiration.

Finally, she signed up for motivational emails, so a positive message greets her when she fires up her computer for job-seeking.

As an aside, it will not hurt for Katie to keep in touch with that dream employer. If it really is a growing company, opportunities will continue and her persistence may very well be an asset!

What do you find helps to keep you thinking in a positive way?

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