I won’t be coy and write that I was raring to work on the job hunt again today after a mini-hiatus from posting to celebrate the holidays. The truth is it takes a tremendous amount of willpower to keep focused and disciplined on finding the right job. There are so many emotional ups and downs, from interview invitations to the copious rejections letters that still manage to sting. I’m always on the lookout then for resources that help in maintaining that much needed focus and motivation.
One such resource was a book I read a few months ago called Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney. Baumeister is a research psychologist (whose book on Evil: Inside Human Cruelty and Violence radically changed my views on human nature) and Tierney, a science writer. Both authors go in-depth to examine willpower and attempt to demystify its elusive qualities with case studies and research findings.
When I read it I was looking more for guidelines on how to generate more willpower since I’ll admit I’ve always struggled with procrastination. The authors explain that procrastination has less to do with a fixation on ensuring a perfect outcome, but rather an issue with impulse control. That explains why I can be so dang impatient! Like most human beings on the planet, I like things now rather than later.
There are two important takeaways I took from the book that help me in the job hunt. The first is instead of calling upon willpower in times of stress set up an environment that has routines and habits that help in accomplishing a goal. This is one of the main reasons I started the #90DaysToMyDreamJob challenge, it provides me a daily routine and keeps me laser focused on what I’m trying to accomplish.
The second takeaway is that willpower is like an energy source that can be depleted and renewed. Pay attention to that voice when it’s telling you, ‘but I don’t feel like it.’ That may be a physiological signal that your body is low on glucose. Eat something then go back to the task or decision at hand. Sometimes you’ll have to push through anyway with that voice whining in the background, but whatever it is that you’re working on whether it’s writing that hiring manager an email to be considered for a job or going for a 15 minute run to lose weight, you’ll likely not regret doing it afterwards.