The Jedi is the wise warrior in the Star Wars blockbuster franchise. The Jedi stays calm and grounded, even in the most difficult of circumstances. This is accomplished by commanding the mind to stay laser focused. This takes practice, but like any fitness program, results are achieved only after sustained effort. The mental fitness required to maintain a positive mindset is like working out a specific muscle.
Career transition can unleash our fears and sometimes a negative inner voice. Fortunately, it also presents an opportunity to get mentally fit. Take my client Steve for example. After losing his job he started berating himself for not seeing the changes coming; for not looking for another job when he felt dissatisfied, and for not having made different choices. Not only was he busy berating himself, he was also judging his former team: They were cold, merciless, and vindictive. To add another layer of negativity, he was judging the entire experience: “Being unemployed is terrible!”
As you might imagine, Steve’s inner negative chatter was having a harmful impact on his motivation, confidence and his chances for getting a job. This happens a lot in career transition.
What to Do
First, Steve needed to become aware of what he was doing. When he experienced a negative emotion, such as anxiety, irritation, or impatience, he teased out the negative thought and labeled it as “judgment”. Next, he took three deep breaths and asked himself the Jedi skill-building question: What’s the gift and opportunity here? For example, what’s the gift and opportunity in someone not showing up for a networking meeting?
Switching to this mental practice interrupted Steve’s negative judgment pattern and allowed him to develop a more positive and empowering mindset. It sounds like a simple technique, and it is, but the challenge is to keep doing it consistently. Just like working out at the gym. During career transition, you’ll need to manage a lot of fear based thoughts and will have plenty of opportunity to practice.
Don’t take my word for it. Try it out for a day and see what happens. If it helps you stay in a positive mindset, do it for another day and see if you can continue for a few more. Keeping mentally fit is just like keeping physically fit, it’s a sustained effort over time. That’s how the Jedi mind is created!
Lynn Nicolai is author of Buckle Up! Managing the Career Transition Rollercoaster. If you want to get off the job search rollercoaster and be more productive, check out Buckle Up!