Have you researched anything on the interwebs lately? A pair of shoes, a book, a car, a college? Did you find great answers quickly? Or, did you find yourself drowning in a sea of options with no decision in sight?
Who could have possibly imagined that one day we’d look at each other and say, “There are just too many options. I can’t figure out how to make a good choice!”
The search for snowboots
It’s April in Atlanta and I’m thinking about snow because it’s 41 degrees outside!!
So, snowboots. In 2015 – the year of 100+ inches of snow in Boston, I found myself searching for a pair of boots to wear on a trip there. I was going to visit with my son, who was in college outside of Boston. I googled snow boots and – bam – 1000+ results appeared on my screen. After 3 grueling hours of searching, I found a great pair of warm, lightweight (!) boots that would work both for snowy Boston and not so snowy Atlanta.
I was lucky. I successfully identified the boots I wanted (still love them) because I figured out some qualifiers (aka key words) to narrow down the results: boots, warm, waterproof, lightweight, under $100.00. The magic was in identifying the specific purpose of my search.
This happens a lot in coaching. Clients come to me feeling overwhelmed. They’re feeling pain in their current work situation, but there is so much information on the internet about finding a new job that they can’t get any traction. Even worse, they’re afraid they’ll never be able to figure out how to land a new job.
It is overwhelming
Of course they’re overwhelmed! Everywhere we look online there are articles about finding our ideal jobs, following our passion to happiness and success, starting our own businesses, writing the perfect résumé, creating a LinkedIn profile that will guarantee us the job of our dreams.
How on earth do we figure out which voice to listen to? How do we narrow down the options?
Over the years, I’ve developed a 5 pronged strategy for moving from overwhelmed to on our way. And, yes, I use this strategy myself. Just ask anyone who’s been a victim of my working through strategy #2.
1. Suspend guilt and give yourself permission to feel overwhelmed.
Really, who wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the boatloads of information to sift through?
So, the first step is to overcome the guilt and stress that result from being overwhelmed. Folks, no one on earth can sift through all that information on jobs without some kind of road map.
That’s why we need to ….
2. Ask for help.
When it finally dawns on me that I’m overwhelmed – maybe tears and an inability to stop reading trashy novels instead of working should be clues – I’ll reach out to someone who’s a good listener and thoughtful questioner and ask for help.
Talking to someone else about my perceived options helps me clarify my thought process and narrow down my choices. It also gets me out of my head. Plus, together, we frequently come up with an approach that I would never have thought of on my own.
When clients come to me for help, we engage in the same process. Listening, questioning, and discerning some choices that indicate the first clues about a direction to take.
3. Halt all research – cold turkey.
This one may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s critical to regaining our sanity.
Zero research – not one search, not one response to an unsolicited job offer. No dipping into LinkedIn and seeing who’s hiring right now. For me, this step involves cutting off all reading about how to build a business. Think of it as a vacation from info mining.
4. Do something physical and crazy fun that recharges you.
Do something that you don’t do on a regular basis. Maybe you like riding horses, or playing the drums, or dancing, or driving fast. It doesn’t matter – it just has to be crazy fun – and the crazier the better.
Here’s the deal. Anything that’s crazy fun and out of our normal routine recharges our resilience. Why? (1) Resilience is a head game. (2) When our heads are exploding, we become intractable. (3) When we get physical and have fun, we move out of our heads and into our bodies and positive energy. Our bounceback comes back.
This step is like a reboot. It resets our system so we can move from frustration into action. And, check it out, it’s not about action toward a job. It’s about taking an action to reset our attitude.
5. Do 1 thing.
Notice I said “Do 1 thing,” not “Do the next right thing.”
Here comes a rant: I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “Just do the next right thing” from coaches and articles. Well, duh. If I knew the next right thing, I’d do it. But I see 117 next right things. How do I pick which one???? End of rant.
So, instead of looking for the exact right thing, we decide on one thing to do. In coaching, I make it something strategic.
Might be updating a LinkedIn profile photo; might be asking a friend about the job that they love so much; might be digging up an old résumé.
The crucial thing is that it is only one thing.
The best one thing (uh-oh, I said the best) is something that creates an immediate win. Hey! I saw you cringing at the thought of getting a new head shot for your LinkedIn profile. “That doesn’t feel like a win,” you’re thinking.
In fact, I push profile photos as the one thing because (a) almost everyone needs to update their LinkedIn photo, (b) it can be intimidating, so (c) once it’s done, it creates positive momentum. And positive momentum shifts us out of overwhelm and into the space where we can create a plan to move forward.
When we’re feeling overwhelmed by anything – particularly job search – it’s tempting to retreat to the couch with last year’s chocolate Easter bunny. Don’t. Instead…
1. Stop feeling guilty about being overwhelmed. Life is overwhelming. That’s why we need to …
2. Ask for help. Get out of your head (and your own way) and ask for help. Be strategic. Ask someone who listens well and asks great questions. Then give yourself permission to be overwhelmed. On our best days, our lives are overwhelming. When we’re contemplating change? Yep. Ask for help and chocolate.
3. Stop looking things up. Immediately. Instead, reach for that novel; grab that old ratty piece of chocolate; say to yourself “Wait. I’m overwhelmed. I’m done with Google!” and stop.
4. Press reset by doing something physical. Dance your buns off. Bang on your drums. Drive like a daredevil (in a safe location, please). Whatever gives you a thrill – go do it.
5. Do 1 thing. Something tiny. Something a wee bit intimidating. It will remind you that you are competent. That you can pull out of overwhelm. And, it will create momentum that moves you forward.