10 tips to fuel staying power and build your career

Dec 22, 2017

Do you easily give up on stuff? Are you feeling tempted to give up on your career goals because you can’t get a job? It could be that you lack resilience.

I know it’s hard to hear, but the only way to get that dream graduate level job, and succeed at it when you do, is to go through tough experiences. Knock-backs, dashed hopes, bad news – they all must be pushed aside. The only way to develop a resilient mind-set is to persevere, even though it’s hard, so in this article, I’d like to share 10 tips to help you fuel staying power. Here we go!

1. Begin with the right mind-set.

The working environment is competitive. Organisations invest thousands to find recruits with the talent to help them succeed. That’s their number one concern, so you must convince them that you’re the sort of person that will keep going even when it gets tough. They want to see evidence of grit, drive and consistency. What better place to start than with a mind-set that shows your determination to pursue the career of your dreams?

2. Think neurons.

One of the most encouraging pieces of advice I can give you comes from neurological research showing that things only feel tough because your brain is trying to connect neurons. It’s what happens in our brains when we form habits. So, it’s natural for stuff you’ve never done before to feel hard because your brain doesn’t have strong enough connections in the area that governs that skill. If you don’t do hard things that stretch you, things you find challenging and, yes, things that are at times monotonous and boring, you’ll never move beyond your current skill level.

3. Practice. Practice.

People who do well in their careers don’t necessarily do so because they’re good at it but because they worked hard at it. In one famous study, SAT scores collected from a group of Ivy League undergraduates showed that the smarter they were, the less they persevered. They didn’t need to try hard, so they didn’t. That’s why people who practice lots often end up doing far better than those who are more talented but don’t put in the work. History has no shortage of examples – Walt Disney, Edison, JK Rowling and many others failed many times before succeeding. Think of all those who gave up too soon! So, don’t allow discouragement to railroad your dreams – work hard. Put the effort in and it will reward you.

4. Set clear values.

In a study on resilience by Gwent police force leader Jeff Farrar, he found that having a clear set of values can help. Humility can help you not to take things too personally. Adaptability can help you to respond appropriately to situations that require quick responses and decisions. And patience can help you to appreciate that some things happen more slowly and gradually than others. Ownership and responsibility for the both, the goal and the steps you need to take to reach it can help you stay on track.

5. Be a learner.

Learning plays a central role in the life of a resilient person. Such people recognise that they need to keep learning if they want to improve. If you find you don’t have the skill to move forward, develop it. Again, this will serve you positively when you’re sitting in an interview answering questions about resilience.

6. Be a problem solver.

Find ways to solve the problems that stand in your way. To do that you need to step back, assess the situation and ask yourself, ‘How can I find a way around this?’ Research what’s out there and get help from others. You will again be developing an important skill that will help you in your career.

7. Focus on what you can change.

It helps to separate the things you can change from those you can’t. Stuff you have no control over will happen. If you focus on what you can’t change, you’ll use up precious time and energy on thoughts and actions that don’t help you to progress. So, focus on the things you can do something about.

8. Remember your successes.

No doubt you will have had challenges in the past. You will have gone through difficult times before. And you got through them, didn’t you? Remind yourself of that and how you did it. Tell yourself that the challenges you’re facing now are no different.

9. Don’t be afraid to get it wrong.

Making mistakes is part of the learning journey and often the fear of getting things wrong stops people from achieving great things. Remember, getting it wrong is the way you will learn how to get it right. Don’t let bad experiences dent your confidence or hamper your career development. Fail forward.

10. Develop self-awareness.

Keep a diary to record and audit triggers to your habits, moods and behaviours – especially the negative ones. Get clear on what motivates you, what makes you feel anxious, when you feel most confident, or what makes you stressed. Note how you behave toward yourself and others, and how these emotions affect your energy levels. Knowing why you feel like giving up is the first step towards moving away from behaviours that don’t serve you.

Now, go get that dream graduate level job!

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