Sometimes you have to change your story! Could normal self-doubt turn into negative messages or “stories” which impact how successful you are? A soon as I heard radio NPR’s segment called Can You Think Your Way To That Hole-In-One? I decided immediately which topic I would choose for a recent talk to a MOAA (Military Officers of America Association) group of career transitioners, going from the military to civilian life. As a BABY VOOMER ™ Career Coach I know that most individuals going through a career transition, especially baby boomers, experience negative self-talk that can stand in their way of achieving their goals, especially during the emotionally sensitive time during a job hunt.

These messages or “stories” we tell ourselves can cover a variety of topics such as: feeling that we’ll be considered “too old” for a job, identifying those already working in the private sector as invincible competition, putting them up on a pedestal because they already have a leg up, having few civilian contacts in the private sector to network with; statements like “I don’t want to contact anyone for networking or to ask for an interview for fear of bothering them”; dislike the feeling of “ begging” for a job; and admitting a lack of understanding of how to use Linkedin and web 2.0 technology for a job search. Instead of developing a strategy for job searching using proven methods statistically leading to quicker, more positive results – many people resort to sitting at their computer checking the daily job boards, and or directly going to corporate web sites, that historically are not kept up to date, etc. because these are emotionally “safer” methods.

“The Power of Positive Perception” is a concept based upon research by a Purdue University psychologist gathering research to support that one may be able to improve his or her golf score by believing that the hole they are aiming for is bigger than it really is.

Golfers were asked, as they came off the course, to choose which of the three diagrams drawn on a large board accurately represented the size of the cup they were aiming for. One was a little bigger than the actual size of the hole, one was a little bigger, and the third was the accurate size. The golfers were also asked to divulge their actual golf score.

The results showed that those golfers who thought the hole was a ”little bigger” got lower scores than those who thought the hole was smaller. Therefore, the golfers with the lower scores were more accurate and took fewer strokes by 10% – 20%, when they visualized that the hole was bigger than it actually was.

How does this apply to being successful in life, managing your career, and leadership development in the business world? I believe that on the job hunt, all the negatives stories we tell ourselves are all true to some degree, but dwelling on them can stand in the way of our success. This led me to apply the research that was done about improving your golf score to business challenges. From my years of experience working with job seekers and career minded individuals climbing the corporate ladder together, we found that by uncovering their self-limiting belief system, and turning that around, we increased their success, thus the phrase –sometimes you have to change your story. Yes, there is ageism. Yes, you always have competition and need to specifically identify what attributes you have in common and those that separate you so that you stand out. Yes, many people will not respond to your phone calls or email requests, therefore you have to increase your odds by looking at this as a “numbers game”—make more calls. Yes, the majority of job hunter’s strategies that revolve around sitting at home, surfing the Internet, answering ads are not statistically effective. The fact is twenty-five cents today isn’t going to buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. So what? Instead of dwelling on the negative, which leads to getting stuck, focus on the positive!

Here is a fact worth considering. AARP BULLENTIN’S May ’12 issue stated “For the first quarter of this year, 788,000 people 55 and older nabbed jobs, compared with 385,000 new jobs for younger workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

I can tell you that millions of baby boomers, even those with gray hair and some going bald, get hired every day – due to their experience, functional and managerial skills and even FOR their maturity (having the presence to communicate with high level executives, etc). As a former executive search recruiter, over the last 15 years, I have a record of landing jobs for professionals in their late 50’s and 60’s. You have to assume for every position you are interviewing for there are at least 5 – 10 applicants that have been narrowed down as finalists. The difference is telling yourself these negatives stories can be self-limiting beliefs, demoralizing, drain your energy and leads to the “why even try attitude.” How about changing your story and visualizing the hole a little larger—with a more positive outlook?

I recently applied this philosophy to setting a goal three times higher than previous for a temple fundraising project that I am in charge of. The project involved selling jars of honey, during an eight-week period, in time for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur. Last year our group sold about 100 jars, the same number as our initial year. First, I remembered NPR’s story and said to myself, “Let’s see if we can sell 300 jars of honey this year”. Secondly, by just acknowledging that I was buying into my negative self-talk, I devised a more assertive creative plan than last year that took marketing the jars to the next level.

Instead of just relying on ads, which appeared in emailed newsletters and bulletins directed to our membership I took a more active approach, and enlisted the help of other temple members. For three weekends two volunteers personally approached parents who were waiting to pick up their kids from Sunday school, showing them a sample of an attractively presented honey jar, holding a colorful personalized greeting card, all ready to be shipped in individual boxes. The suggestion was made about how this would make a great gift for family, friends and business associates. We only asked if they would be willing to give us their name and email address so that they could receive a reminder link for ordering purposes in the next few weeks. I’ll let you know what happens!

Listen to the story:

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