I am currently in a period of my life that many consider an irritating, stressful, challenging time – one of finding a new job.

It is a mental challenge to remain steadfast in your resolutions. To not be swayed by those continual questions: ‘how is the job hunt going’, ‘have you found a job yet’ and ‘did you get that job.’ These are the agents of the voice of the lizard brain. The one that encourages you to lower your sights in order to find security, to buckle to family and peer pressure. One which considers a person out of paid employment, out of work. On the contrary, unemployment (or funemployment as a friend dubbed it) is an opportunity to pursue activities your brain is normally so stuffed full of distractions to do. Things such as read more, taking in the air whilst promenading, exercising regularly, watch movies you’ve always wanted to see, travel, meet people or maybe start a business.

Self-knowledge. It is a time to get to know yourself better and I’m talking about much more than simply your strengths and weaknesses.

Peter Drucker was a management guru, the first and most oft cited. I recently had the time to read a book which combines snippets from 10 of his previous books written over the past 60 years, The Essential Drucker. I have always meant to read it but never the time. I was sitting on an Intercity train between Amersfoort and Amsterdam and thinking, isn’t this all so obvious? And of course the beauty of it is, it IS obvious and more to the point, easily translatable into action. Peter says: “focus on your strengths not your weaknesses.” He poses some additional questions, ‘how do you learn and work with others? What are you most deeply held values? And in what type of work environment can you make the greatest contribution?’ I would highly recommend his HBR article, ‘Managing Oneself’ for further reading. An additional tool I used was the perennial classic, ‘What Color Is Your Parachute?’ This specifically deals with how to find a fulfilling job using the ‘flower exercise’ which combines sevens ‘petals’: geography, favourite people/environment, favourite values, favourite working conditions, favourite skills, favourite interests and salary/level of responsibility. It helps people to “define and hold to personal commitments.” I’ve found it very useful.

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