I volunteer at a healing center once a week. Since it is located in the shopping part of the city, parking is always hard to find. Sometimes, I am lucky and find one right across from the office right away. Other times, it will be take me 20-30 minutes and I would be 5 blocks away and way up several steep hills.

Why is this relevant to career coaching? Well, looking for a parking spot in a busy area is a bit like looking for a job. There is a lot of competition all the time and you can get super frustrated along the way. Sometimes it seems like you are always one step behind, as you are told the job is filled or watch the car in front of you find a spot every corner you turn.  I know you can relate.

After a year of looking for parking every week with different experiences, I started to realize a few things

  • I always end up with a parking spot,  as I don’t give myself an option of not volunteering that week.  I will just keep looking until I find one
  • Once you find a parking spot, you almost always end up spotting more spots on your way to your destination.
  • The parking spot is just a means to an end and not the destination itself.
  • How my experience is during the time I am looking for parking is largely dependent on some luck, my expectations, and my perception.
  • The calmer I am during the process, the more likely I will find a good spot quicker and feel good about the experience

This is what we can also learn during  job search

  • If you keep looking for a job, you will find one.  It may not be perfect, but it will be a job.  I know experienced business people that began to work at starbucks cafe because they just needed to work.  Once they started working at Starbucks, they were more open minded on all kinds of work and soon they found better work
  • A job is not the ultimately goal.  We will have 6 careers in a lifetime and probably 20 jobs, so each one is just a stopping point in our career.  And ultimately work is not the most important in life.  We won’t lay in our death bed, wishing we got more perfect jobs.  We usually wish we did more outside of work with family and friends.  So realize that the definition of success is NOT a perfect job or career.
  • The journey of job search can be a miserable one or a pleasant one. It all depends on your expectations and perspective.  If you expect to immediately find a job and don’t, you will feel disappointed and discouraged.  But if you expected to find a job in 6 months, but found one in 4 months, you would be quite happy.  So set realistic expectations or perhaps no expectations.  After you find a job, you can choose to view it positively or negatively just like the parking spot you found.  I could say to myself – I am thankful I found a spot (even if it’s up several hills).  I can also think it will be a good exercise on my way back to the car.  Similarly, you can focus on the positive aspect of that job.  In reverse, you could find the job and be miserable the rest of the time you are at the job because all you chose to see is the negative (how long the commute, inadequate pay, etc..).  It’s up to you to define the experience.  Complaining is a national pass time but never lead to anyone’s happiness.
  • When you are clear-minded and calm in job search, you will spot more opportunities and have 100% of your brain power focused on finding the best job possible for the current time.

So stay calm, ignore your doubts, and choose to set your expectations and  prospectives in a way that energizes and empowers you in your job search.  Who knows, you may even be able to enjoy the journey.  Good luck with your job search.

– Lei

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