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Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

Motivational Tricks

In the current issue of Fast Company, Dan and Chip Heath sell the benefits of smaller goals:


They talk about starting a one-minute exercise program or a five-minute decluttering project. There is definitely a place for this, and I will sometimes tell my career coaching clients to make one networking call per week or to read one business article. The idea is that you get the person started, and the momentum of the start will give them the energy to increase over time.

However, this isn’t always true. Sometimes, you just don’t see enough of the benefit from a small start and therefore you get discouraged and quit, rather than add on to what you started. The above career coaching example is good for someone who wants to start actively managing their career. It is inappropriate for an active job search because you will never get enough traction on your search with one call per week. You need to make a push and build a market presence.

In the case where you need to make a push, but you are hesitant to start (who really likes making networking calls?), I recommend another tactic inspired by Ron Popeil of informercial fame. Remember set it and forget it for his rotisserie chicken maker? Set your system and then forget it. Bunch your networking calls into one day and time block – the same day and time block every week — and then forget about it the rest of the week. When it pops up on your calendar, you do it. But then it’s over.

I write 5-6 columns per week between my newsletter, blogs, and writing that I do for other publications. I have to write week in, week out, inspiration be damned. I know I write best in the morning. So I have my calendar set for a 6a start on the same day each week with a list of columns I have to produce for that week. When it pops up on my calendar, I write. I may edit later. I may also write at other times when an idea comes up and I have the time and I want to write. But otherwise, I’ve built a system and let the system carry the weight.

Aiming for small goals is a motivational trick. Setting a system is another motivational trick. Motivational tricks are incredibly helpful because you don’t have to always push toward the goal – you can trick yourself into it. I cover another trick in a recent CNBC.com column:


Do you have any motivational tricks to share?


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