Thursday, February 2, 2012

Message from a College Grad: Motivation

When you've graduated and nothing is going your way, how do you stay motivated? It's not easy.

1. Start a schedule and start small.
You know what feels good? Crossing something off your to-do list. Make a schedule of just a few things and stick to it. If you give yourself a deadline and a schedule, you are more likely to stay on task. It will feel great to accomplish something. For example:

Monday - 11am to 1pm: search for potential jobs online and bookmark them
Tuesday - 12pm to 2pm: prepare resumes and CV for five positions
Wednesday - 1pm to 1:30pm: send out the applications for the five positions
Thursday & Friday: repeat Tuesday and Wednesday with five more positions.
Saturday & Sunday: Rest
Next Monday: 11am to 1pm: follow up with phone call to prospective positions

2. Rope in friends.
Get a friend to come over or work via Skype and GoogleDocs with you during your designated schedule times. Trade resumes, edit each others emails before they are sent out. They'll keep you on deadline because they tie you to responsibility. You've made a commitment to getting this done and helping your friend. Just make sure its someone that really cares about your future and theirs. 

3. Make it a competition.
Friendly competition. See who can submit more applications or who can reach their goal faster. I don't suggest counting sensitive subjects like who gets more interviews or a job faster. Different positions, the economy, and other factors are involved in those processes. Plus that can really cripple motivation.

4. Be productive in other aspects of life.
Schedule your own appointments (like to the dentist) instead of having your parents do it. Taking small bits of responsibility will make you feel confident and in control of your direction in life. Another aspect is connecting with your field. Talk to professionals, not to get a job, but about their job, how they got it, pros and cons, and where they're going. Attend conferences. It gets you onto the scene, learning about your field of business, and connecting with professionals whose tips and insight are invaluable.

5. Wake up early. 
Oh the moans and groans. You don't want to do that until you have a real job. I'm not saying wake up at 7am, but having a regular sleep schedule with maximum daytime helps motivation. According to this Healthy Living article on Yahoo, "Studies have also correlated early-rising larks with character traits like optimism, stability and conscientiousness. And while night owls are associated with greater levels of creativity and intelligence, they are also more likely to exhibit pessimism, depression and neurotic behavior."
*Also, interviews are more likely to be conducted in the mornings. Practice makes perfect.

This stuff is just part of growing up. You have to take responsibility for your own life, step by step. Your parents won't always do it for you.

More Messages from a College Grad

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