Let’s face it. Work can be stressful, and a job search or career transformation can be nerve-racking to the extreme. Thoughts and self-doubts tumble around our brain, impacting our focus, confidence and clarity.
- Should I risk the comfort of my current job for the unknown?
- Am I qualified for the job I really want?
- How many people are applying for this job?
- Will I even get an interview?
- If I get the job, will I like it?
- Am I too old to make a change?
- Will it pay enough?
- Will I be good at it?
- Will my new boss and co-workers like me?
- Wouldn’t keeping things as they are be a whole lot easier?
Regardless of the field, experience or salary level, nearly all job seekers and career changers experience some level of stress during their quest. It’s only natural, given the amount of uncertainty; possible family, money and timing pressures; and the seeming lack of control over the process.
And while a modest amount of stress is good (it keeps us energized and motivated), we know that too much of it causes all kinds of health problems, from cancer and heart disease to body aches and acne.
When it comes to the career shaping process, too much stress can limit our ability to:
- Make smart decisions;
- Focus on what needs to be done;
- Interview well;
- Negotiate effectively;
- Present ourselves as friendly, capable and with a sense of humor; and
- Work through the process thoughtfully, creatively and patiently.
When I work with students and career-transformation clients one of the very first discussions we have is about the importance of establishing a positive, focused and calm mindset as their foundation. Doing so reduces stress and makes the entire career transformation process more enjoyable and successful. So how do we do this? By becoming more mindful.
For me, mindfulness swooped into my life at just the right time. I was in a job I enjoyed but that came with your typical leadership pressures – organizationally how to do a lot more with a lot less. This required mobilizing all levels of staff, including many extremely long-term employees, to identify and implement opportunities for significant savings, innovation and change. At the same time, I was trying to navigate my own life after the loss of 10 close friends and family over the previous four years. I needed help staying focused, engaged and optimistic. Enter mindfulness.
Mindfulness, in short, means being in the moment; really paying attention to what is right before us without judgment. It’s been a hot topic the past several years because both research and measurable results in individuals and work places demonstrate its multiple benefits.
I came to mindfulness by way of the yoga mat. I’d been a pretty serious dancer growing up but once I got older, I danced less and discovered yoga was a good way to stay flexible. I dabbled, but it wasn’t until about 7 years ago that I really connected with the total array of benefits yoga presented.
I was renting a little yellow beach cottage a couple of blocks from the ocean on the Jersey shore and came across a bunch of people doing yoga on the pier. I joined them the next day, and in that very first yoga class with the gentle ocean breeze, salt air and soft ocean waves, I experienced what true calm, beauty, peace of mind, joy and focus really meant. I was hooked!
While sitting on that same pier the following summer, thinking about the mindfulness benefits I experienced with yoga, it came to me. What if there were a way to realize this state of bliss off the mat and in other parts of my life? Even in my work? And what if I could help others experience the same thing? Turns out, I could do just that!
The seeds were planted for what would become my current profession – a career coach helping others identify and land their dream job. One of the tools I invite clients to use in order to discover and thrive in their new work is mindfulness. And while it is such a popular tool, so far I’m one of the only coaches to infuse mindfulness into the career transformation process.
When I work with students and clients, I’m helping people attain professional success as they define it. While our work centers of seven specific steps with very tangible actions — such as creating a cutting edge resume and preparing for the toughest interviews — the process begins with establishing a foundation of a positive and focused mindset. There are many ways to cultivate this attitude, both through the practical work of identifying personal mission, strengths and barriers, but also by using mindfulness tools to boost focus and positivity.
Encouraging clients to visualize their ideal workday or to close their eyes and take some deep breaths for a few minutes as they set out to do their career transformation work for the day, is incredibly powerful.
P.S. Here’s a link to one of my favorite guided 5ish-minute meditations. Give it a try!
P.S.S. There are many different ways to practice mindfulness, from yoga and deep breathing to meditation and more. To learn more about the different tools of mindfulness as well as the benefits of infusing mindfulness into your career change, download FREE mini-guide, Mind Over Scatter now …