Any time we are in an unpleasant-feeling situation, we have two choices in how to respond. There is rationalization and there is truth. Rationalization is the process of telling yourself a story to make you feel better, often times to keep yourself from taking the scary step towards change. Truth, on the other hand, leads to freedom, hope and change. How so, you ask?
Here is an easy example. Suppose you've sent your resume out to hundreds of prospective employers, but you've only been on a couple interviews, and have never received a call back, let alone a job offer. Rationalization says “Everyone knows the economy is terrible so I guess there's nothing I can do.” Now, you can feel good about the effort you've put in and no effort is required.
However, if the end goal is to get the job of your dreams, rationalization won't advance your cause. Truth says “There is something about either the quality of my resume or my interviewing skills that is not resonating with the employers I'm selecting. I need to go back and make sure my resume is as crisp, professional, and as sellable as possible, and I need to choose employers and positions that are a fit with my knowledge, skills and abilities.” With this tactic, you may feel a little bit overwhelmed because there's a lot of work ahead of you, but you will probably also feel hopeful, because there is still action to be taken.
Is the end goal to be employed, or to feel good about not being employed? Rationalization leads to inaction and though you feel okay, you're not actually doing anything helpful for yourself. Rationalization doesn't change reality, and while the truth doesn't change it either, it is the doorway to hope and change.
Here are five ways telling yourself the truth will help your job search:
- You will become aware of things you might be doing that are preventing your goal. You may be making unnecessary careless mistakes during the application process without realizing! Are you ignoring the application field that lets you input a customized cover letter, or neglecting to proofread your resume? Once you open yourself to the possibility that there are things you could do better, you will see them.
- You will become a powerful decision maker in your life. In your job search, you have choices! You may decide that you would rather not work than undertake a particular commute, or work in a certain environment. That's okay. The important realization is that you get to choose which job you accept, the job that's right for you.
- You get to have hope. If you have ever experienced the nagging solace that rationalization provides, versus the excitement that hope brings, you know the value of hope.
- You get to make peace with yourself. If you have been sabotaging yourself, or doing things to undermine your progress, it's possible that on some level you feel guilt or even shame about this. It might not be something you'd ever admit to another person, but it's there. By pulling off the band-aid you get to heal and move on.
- You get to have change. And that's the best part. Once you have let go of your rationalization, you get to move on and start something new.
So if you've been frustrated in your job search, maybe it's time to look at it with a fresh pair of eyes to see if there's anything you could be doing different or better to get you different results.