It takes more than brute strength to get you to the Olympics. It takes unfailing dedication, thick skin and blind determination against all the odds. It takes an ability to get back up after being pushed over again and again, to slug it out day after day in spite of the injuries. It takes careful cultivation of the best possible habits and stringent application of a meticulously plotted daily regime. You can see where I’m going with this. Good habits work in your favour in the job search as well. Here’s what you can learn from the Olympians.
Stick to a schedule. Job hunting is hard. It’s not double backflipping on a balance beam but sometimes it feels equally challenging, even more so for the unemployed. Resist the temptation to sleep late, drink three coffees and watch the morning news (and maybe a soap or two or three) before getting at it. That will only make it harder. Plan your day hour by hour, starting with the most agonizing tasks. Better to get them out of the way first thing. Make time for exercise, it improves brain function in a myriad of ways.
Sleep the right amount. If you’re out of work, it can be tempting to stay up all hours and sleep until noon. Lack of sleep can lead to moodiness, hypertension, poor immune functioning and much more. Oversleeping, on the other hand, is linked to headaches, depression, back pain and obesity. You can see how these things might affect your search. Job hunting requires you to be on top of your game. All the time. Check out these strategies for how to sleep like an Olympic athlete.
Master your nerves. The things you least want to do are probably the things you need to do the most. Cold calling. Making live contact with potential employers. Asking for help. Pestering your connections and milking them for all their worth. Tracking down recommendations. Bite the bullet and get it done. Think like a diver or a pole vaulter. It’ll be over in a few seconds. Breath deep and do it. You’ll feel better when it’s done.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Do you think Steve Hooker thought about giving up after he failed to clear a height at Crystal Palace just a few weeks before the Olympics? I doubt that very much. The more heartbreaking your failures, the closer you are to success. Keep your eyes on the prize. Here’s where your fierce scheduling and goal setting comes in handy. Put your head down and go forward.
Practice makes perfect. No one scores a bullseye with their first arrow, not even Australian Archer Elisa Barnard. The more cover letters you write, the more succinct your writing will become. The more phone calls you make, the better a salesman you make of yourself.
Take Risks. The more extravagant the dive, the higher the difficulty points that are awarded. Of course, the risk is in losing points on the execution. Don’t let that hold you back. Take risks in your approach, try things that are new and different. Creative resumes. Interactive resumes. Video cover letters. Those are the things that catch an employer’s attention. Big risks are what win the gold medals.
Wake up early. Aussie swimmer Stephanie Rice starts her 5-7 kilometre swim every morning at 5:30am. Before breakfast! Imagine what you could accomplish by buying yourself a few extra hours every morning. Start with half an hour earlier. See how that changes your day. Increase as needed.
Set goals. Goals are what keep us on track, in business as in life. Make it achievable. A phone call and a resume per day, for example. Remember, from little things, big things grow.
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