|I walked by my husband’s work space this morning and something caught my eye.
6 yellow Post-it notes down the side of his computer screen.
That is weird. I’ve never seen him do that.
My husband has worked for the same newspaper for 20 years as a sports writer covering high school sports.
Things changed due to covid. There were no high school sports to cover. His newspaper, like many companies, had to make some difficult decisions. My husband was asked to be the lead writer on a small community paper the parent company had recently purchased.
This was a major change to his routine. He did not require post-it notes in his old role. He knew what to do and how to do it. Yes, things changed week to week – the teams he covered, the sports he covered, the location and the stories. What did not change was his process. It was automatic to him.
When he took up this new role, he realized that he had to make a plan for his day to make sure he did not forget something or have to waste time finding the new website addresses he was now visiting to get info.
My Big Change Required My Own Type of Post-its
I am in a similar position. I have made the commitment to go back to clean eating. I just feel better when I eat this way. I am following something called Bright Line Eating (www.brightlineeating.com). It has only 4 steps-no sugar, no flour, measured quantities and 3 meals a day. There are some variations based on people’s circumstances, but this is the main plan and the one I follow.
4 Simple Post-Its.
One of the things that Susan Peirce Thompson, the founder of BLE, talks about is brain science. One of the things that intrigued me the most was when she talks about willpower. Willpower is a brain function like breathing is a function of the brain. We all have it. One person does not have more or less willpower though it can seem like it. It is just some people manage their willpower better.
A simple way to think about this is that willpower is that it is like a rechargeable battery. It starts out fully charged and then gets depleted as you make choices. When you reply to emails you are making a choice, when you respond to your kids demands you are making choices, when you think about what to wear, what to eat, when to go to bed…all of these daily choices deplete your willpower. No surprise that when you get to the end of a long day of making decisions, making dinner feels like an impossible mountain to climb. Instead we order a pizza or opt for fast food or even nothing at all. None of these being our best choices if we have a goal of getting healthy.
If you are setting out on a job search you are required to make a lot of decisions. How to lay out your resume or LinkedIn profile, when to find the time to search, what to say in the cover letter, how to prepare for the interview. Often times we have the best of intentions, like a diet, but then fall back into our old routines. Figuring out how to keep your willpower charged is the answer.
How to Overcome Willpower Depletion
According to Susan Peirce Thompson, the solution to willpower depletion is automaticity. It makes sense. The more you can automate your behaviors the less you have to make decisions. The less you have to make decisions the less depleted your willpower becomes. Moving behaviors from the willpower portion of your brain (angular cingulate cortex) to the automated behavior portion (basal ganglia) is the key.
For me, how I move my food decisions from willpower decisions to automated decisions is by planning my meals every night, measuring what I eat, executing on my plan at every meal and then I repeat the process.
You can do this when you are in a job search as well.
4 Steps to Automating Your Job Search
- Plan when you are going to spend time on your job search. Every night before bed (or once a week for the upcoming week) look at your calendar and set a schedule of when you will do your job search and what the specific behaviors will be. Like breakfast, lunch and dinner your job search behaviors could be look for jobs, apply to jobs and connect with people who might be helpful in your search. Then figure out if you will do these activities at 3 different times of the day or at the same time simply broken into chunks.
- Measure what you are doing. I know how many ounces of veggies I will eat at lunch and at dinner. In the same way, set the goal of how many companies you will add to your target list, how many jobs you will apply to and how many people you will connect with. Then do exactly that. When you veer off this plan you start to tap into your willpower in a way that will end up leaving you depleted.
- Execute on your plan. Once you know what you are going to do when, for how long and how much then do that. Keep your commitment to yourself.
- Repeat this process every day and you will see results. Like weight loss sometimes the results are big, sometimes they are slow and sometimes the stall altogether but DO NOT QUIT. If weight loss is stalling BLE encourages you reach out and talk about your food plans with others to see if you need to adjust. This is also true with your job search.
Are you ready to Plan, Measure and Execute on your job search? Schedule your Career Strategy Session today and watch your job search gain needed traction.