I write resumes for job seekers. I enjoy the work, but it’s difficult when I can t “find” the client, that is, understand his or her needs and motivations well enough to lead them towards the right job. The problem is usually the same every time. It is a problem that many of us have. It is actually more than one problem. It is three problems that many jobseekers have. First, they have conflicting priorities. Second, they can’t clearly express their goals. Third, because of the first two problems, they can take effective action, or any action at all. They often feel paralyzed.
First, there is the problem of conflicting priorities. Many job seekers don’t really know what they want. If I don’t know what I want, how can I pursue it? They say they want a job, but often a job is a means to another end. More accurately, they want more than one thing at the same time. One client I worked with wanted more time with her children, but she had people who were telling her to pursue “success,” that is higher paying but more demanding jobs that would take her away from her children.
While it may not be the worst problem in the world, what many of us struggle with is not the lack of choices, but the glut of choices. In her book Loving What Is, Byron Katie says confusion is the source of all pain. It is confusing to know what to do when so many choices are presented. In my experience, I have not only worried about what others need, I have often wondered if Choice A was really better than Choice B. Which job should I take? Which degree should I pursue? Which book should I read? What should I make for dinner? Sometimes there are just too many choices and it becomes overwhelming.
I have found it helpful to pick one thing and pursue it, not because the other choice is, or the other choices are, bad, but because I can only pick one thing at a time. Yes, life is demanding and most of us have priorities in different areas – personal, professional, spiritual and intellectual. But even at each of these levels, we can only do so much, given our limited amount of time and energy. My clients have to make a professional choice. Yes, it affects other life areas, but it is largely a professional choice.
Looking at it slightly more pragmatically, there are no perfect choices. Years ago, from among two choices, I chose a particular educational path. Doing so quickly created problems and opportunities in my life. Had I made the other choice, I am convinced other problems and opportunities would have been quickly created. They would have just been different. There is no perfect life and no perfect choice. We just do the best we can.
(Ironically, as I’m writing this blog, I’ve been wondering if this was my best choice as a topic. I’m going to proceed though, because, even if this is my worst blog ever – and it’s not – then at least I’m writing something.)
The second problem is that many people do not have clearly stated goals. Many jobseekers say, “I just want a job, any job.”
While I understand the motivation, this kind of thinking is usually counterproductive. The more specific a goal, the better chance one has reaching it. It’s important to have written goals. This helps clarify what we want. This is one of the reasons I repeatedly mention spending my life with my Muse in my house on the beach. This is a written and stated goal. Writing it and stating it repeatedly increases my determination. It also eliminates, by necessity, the burden of too many choices. I’ve stated what I want and while other goals may be worthy, I’m committed to my Muse.
This commitment has made it easier to take decisive action, which is the third thing many lack. Very little replaces the power of clear and decisive action. Even when the action is “wrong,” that is, a bad choice, it is still helpful, because now I know, with no doubt, what not to do.
Action also helps me when difficulties arise. Obstacles are just part of the landscape, not the whole terrain. I don’t like them, but I acknowledge them and decide what I need to do to get around it so that I can get to my house on the beach as quickly as possible. This is why I write every day. This is why I tell people to Get Started and to Keep Going. This is why I Get Started and why I Keep Going. So I can find myself.