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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Notes from Transition: Permission to Take Time Off

Note: This series is written for others who are in career transition, either from the same company I left or elsewhere. Having been fortunate to have transitional benefits, and a great network of HR pros,  these posts are written for the benefit of those who don't have as much time or the good advice available to me.  

Usually people in transition fall into two categories; those who aren't active enough in their search and those who do nothing else.  I fall into the latter category.  People who don't search enough are usually overwhelmed with the enormity of the task, easily distracted, or feel hopeless.  Rather than look they find other things to do.  For those of us who are focused on the search, the state of being that is transition is unacceptable and must be worked diligently until resolved.  At times that resolve and focus can become so intense that we don't do anything else and that is not a healthy state.

Just as you can't work at any job day and night, weekdays and weekends and stay healthy, you can't work that hard on your transition and stay healthy either. As one advisor of mine put it,

"You are the Sales Manager, the Sales Rep, and the Product all rolled into one.  You have to strategically decide how to sell, go out and do the selling and be the thing sold all at once.  If you ruin the product, there is nothing to sell and all the other effort is wasted."

Knowing intuitively that I would be leaving my last job, I have been working this search intensively since late August. This week I will have my 9th or 10th phone or in-person interview including a fourth interview I just completed last week with a company in Indianapolis.  I have had three near misses: two low-ball verbal offers where we couldn't come to terms and one position that was pulled at the last minute.  My friends and colleagues are awed by how much activity I have generated in such a short period of time through networking.  By three weeks ago, however, I was exhausted and knew changes had to be made.

Since then I have been intentional about planning my time.  I've been interspersing my search time with volunteer work with Soles4Souls during the week.  This breaks up my mental focus and helps me approach each career opportunity with fresh eyes.  I have planned golf or music gigs or some type of family activity for the weekends.  On Saturday and Sunday all you can do is apply on-line anyway, and with the average on-line ad getting 1,400 responses that strategy has dubious payback at best.  You are better off going to the Y, playing golf, or some other activity that brings you into personal contact with people.

The Big Idea here is this: in transition your have one job and that is find your next job, so you need to work it like a job Monday through Friday and take the weekends off.  Keep a routine to the greatest extent  possible; exercise, church, meal times, lunch with friends, etc... and keep yourself physically, spiritually and emotionally balanced.  Think of it as any other big project you have managed in the past and work it carefully and religiously until its completed.

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