When preparation becomes a form of procrastination
The concept of motion vs. action
Have you ever asked yourself if you are really taking the right approach tackling your professional future? In this blog post, I’ll address the two most common strategic mistakes I observe as a career coach and invite you on a little journey of reflection.
Want to tackle your professional future in a supportive and reflective group setting? Let’s meet every Tuesday to work on your personal goal and hold you accountable.
Kick off November 8th!
Procrastinating on the job hunt process
Re-entering the workplace or switching career paths is not a sprint but a marathon. You might have heard that before and somehow it is true. Usually, a new job is not waiting for you just one phone call away but it takes several approaches from different angles. That does not sound like fun. It sounds like hard work, a path of rejection, and lots of input with an uncertain outcome. No wonder many of us are hesitant to even start this journey. We tend to procrastinate on it. Tend to play the “First A then B” game.
First, I need my work permit, then I can start looking for jobs.
First, I need my daycare situation sorted out so that I can think about what to do professionally.
First, I need to know exactly when we are moving before I start thinking about my career.
All valid reasons! But at the same time also excuses why we do not start the process right away. We often underestimate that the job hunting process frankly starts before sending out your resume.
It starts with reflecting on whether you even want to go back to work.
It starts with reflecting on what kind of work would actually be fulfilling.
It starts with outlining different paths and also questioning the former career.
So there is quite some homework that can be done upfront and that triggers the big questions you want to have time to find an answer for that feels authentic and well contemplated. And this phase is actually fun! I often compare it to going to the spa. Only this time you are not taking care of your body but the inner voices of “I should do this” or “Am I even good enough for the job?”. It is an invitation to leave the children and the daily to-do list aside for a moment and just focus on what YOU want. And that is what coaching is actually. Providing this comfortable but challenging space to think and to allow all thoughts to be valid for a moment.
So there are two tricky moments in the job search phase:
- Get the process started (we just talked about this)
- To not fool yourself that you are already doing something when in reality you are just procrastinating.
The concept of Motion vs. Action
I really want to highlight this second pitfall as I see it so many times within the first session with my clients. And I did not really know how to explain it in plain words until I was reading about it in the Atomic Habits book by James Clear. He differentiates between motion as the planning and strategizing phase vs action as the type of behavior that delivers the outcome. He explains it with a couple of simple examples. One of them I guess many of us are familiar with:
Let’s imagine for a second that you are not feeling happy with your body and you want to get in shape. While we know that there is no other way than to improve our diet and exercise, many of us tend to rush into strategizing mode. Browsing the web for the best workout plan. Printing it out and putting it in a nice folder. Looking for nice workout shirts. Comparing the best running shoes. Waiting for the first of the month because it is just a better start day.
allows us to feel like we make process without running the risk of failure
–> does not lead to results
If you want to master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection.
While doing all this we are busy. We feel that we are actually doing something. However, when we are honest with ourselves we have to admit that we are still eating the same things and have not worked out yet. Only the action of working out will get the result we are looking to achieve. So, if the motion doesn’t lead to results, why do we do it? Sometimes we do it because we actually need to plan or learn more. But more often than not, we do it because motion allows us to feel like we’re making progress without running the risk of failure. Most of us are experts at avoiding criticism. It doesn’t feel good to fail or to be judged publicly, so we tend to avoid situations where that might happen. And that’s the big reason why you slip into motion rather than taking action: You want to delay failure.
Has preparation turned into a form of procrastination in your job hunt?
What about your own situation? When you think about the way you have approached the idea of re-entering the workforce or continuing your career abroad: How much of what you do is motion? What actions are really bringing you closer to your goal?
When preparation becomes a form of procrastination, you need to change something. You do not want to merely be planning. You want to be practicing. If you master a habit, the key starts with repetition – not with perfection.
So what does that mean for your career planning? It means to watch out when you are playing the “First A then B” game. When are you keeping yourself busy instead of just doing it? Are you still working on your resume and hence postponing actually reading through job descriptions? Are you still working on the perfect elevator pitch and hence postponing going to networking events? Are you considering to do coaching but are waiting for the perfect timing? And will the timing ever be perfect?
There is magic in turning motion into action and kickstarting the process. So in case, you have realized that many of the things you did lately are more motion than action, what will be your next step? What will be the trigger to get yourself started?
Let’s discuss this in a free discovery call! I am more than happy to talk about your situation and check whether you are still in motion or already in action. You can book a free get-to-know-each-other call following this link here. I am looking forward to getting to know you and helping you in your journey!
Join the Jumpstart your Career Program to kick off the action period!
Or join a setting that emphasizes action vs motion by creating a fixed and supportive group coaching structure. In my Mastermind Group called Jumpstart your career (kicking off November 8th), we are meeting every Tuesday for four weeks to work on our individual goals. I am sharing more coaching tools and concepts that will help you stay focused and in action mode. The group will not only share their group wisdom and experience with you but also holds you accountable for your action steps that we define at the end of each session. After four weeks you will see that you reached clarity on the road ahead and are used to taking action instead of motion.