By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter
I sat staring at the computer screen, stifled.
Emails crowded my view, like schools of fish, mouths open for food. Will I trigger an undulating wave by diving into this email ocean?
Or, perhaps I’ll engage with MS Word and apply the needed salve to dozens of career documents. Will I get sucked into an abyss of streaming insights? At the end of the day, will my applying energy this direction result in hundreds of words strung together like neatly hung laundry across a taut clothes line? At the end of the day, after weeks upon weeks of similarly scheduled activity, will I be able to sustain and provide the needed (and promised) value to my prospects and clients?
The sense of ceaselessness, the ongoing emotional and intellectual calorie-burning, the incessant, repeatable process of reading/thinking/doing, reading/thinking/doing, if not paced with occasional joy breaks will potentially cause an untenable sense of overload and tiresomeness.
Where’s the delight? Where’s the tonic?
Sculpting Your Life
We all are accountable for sculpting lives that have the lines, shapes, curves and texture that suit our personalities and goals. We all are answerable to the choices that build up our attitudes, reduce our edginess and induce a productive, forward-moving, day-to-day result. We all must find and tap into those resources that encourage a happy satisfaction.
As for me, the screen-staring moment I endured this past Saturday reinforced Rob’s and my night-out decision for an off-site, kick-up-your heels joy event involving friends, food, wine, laughter, pool games and a roaring fireplace. While the temptation to decline social engagements is strong when the list of business to-dos grows ever longer, the need for emotional nutrition is even more compelling and should not be ignored.
I understand: I have been known to pass on fun opportunities because of work, and work, and more work. Project momentum has been known to gain speed and go steaming roughshod over my fun and joy.
If you are a careerist facing daily, overwhelming pressures of a chaotic work environment, overlapping projects, unrelenting bosses and demanding clients, I implore you to take the time for yourself, to uncover the pleasures that once made you smile. Take time for the fuel you find through your friends, family, nature, hobbies, activities and fun that are completely unrelated to your work, your responsibilities and your bottom line.
If you are a job seeker with an interminable need to focus on your out-of-work situation, with an urge to center all energies on your constant stress state, take charge of your attitude and fetch the tonic that will rejuvenate your attitude.
Boost Your Job Search By Easing Off
An undernourished attitude ultimately will slow your search, impeding problem-solving and decision-making abilities. Yet, at the end of the day (week/month) investing time and energy away from your job search will actually fuel your goals and boost your job search and career productivity. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Accept an invitation for dinner at your friend’s home. You know the one. She dependably makes you laugh. She never judges. She’s all about fun, games, popcorn, wine and perhaps a dollop of comedy television.
2. Kidnap your husband or wife for a day out, running silly errands, window shopping, people watching and an ice cream cone.
3. Assemble your favorite DVDs, a couple of bags of popcorn, a bottle of soda and your favorite other person and, donning your jammies or sweats, settle into a full day or evening of movies. Shifting from mindless laughter to therapeutic tears to engaging thoughts associated with the comedies, dramas and historical narratives that tie to your favorite screenplays can transport you from career-overwhelm to liberating feelings of joy, calm and release.
4. Tune into Pandora or iTunes and find your favorites that lift, cajole, energize and delight. Or, perhaps you just need a song to describe your current feelings?
5. Dream a little; if your best energy is expended during the warmer, summer months, take a tour now through photo albums, reflecting and dreaming. Inspire yourself with plans and preparations that will lead you toward your next-summer’s goals. Rob’s and my passion is sailing, and each winter we face a sense of loss and even, I daresay, a mild depression as we mourn the cessation of sailing season.
Our virtual photo album is full of such memories that fuel our vision for the future. It is a good time to revisit and organize our memories while buoying our spirits as we plan for a new sailing season. We also have time, during this ‘down-time’ to work on sailboat projects, refinishing the woodwork and such that simply are not priorities during the busy sailing season.
As you climb the career mountain or move circuitously through your job-search maze, and find yourself stalled, slipping or even paralyzed in your movement, keep in mind that nourishing your emotions and fueling your fun are keys to productivity and success. Though I will be the first to advise plotting and vigorously working a strategic plan as integral drivers for career fertility, I also am an avid believer in occasional stops for a joy ‘refuel’ that keeps the engine running, transporting you from career destination to career destination.