Job hunting and the procrastination game

Job hunting and the procrastination game

Considering the economic climate of the last few years, I believe that motivation is one of the most important skills you can develop in order to achieve your goals.

It’s easy to lose your path and connection with the person you want to be when facing such a fickle job market.

The job application allergy

When receiving numerous job application rejections, most people tend to lose their sense of direction and clarity about what they truly want out of their career.

People start to fixate on the past and what’s going wrong, instead of on the future and what can be done in order to improve the situation.

You start to focus on the unwanted thought of being rejected from yet another job application and develop a sort of "allergy" at the idea of continuing to send out CVs.

Consequently you lose your grit and fall into the vicious procrastination circle of "I’ll do it tomorrow".


But isn’t procrastination a strategy of self-sabotage? Why do you engage in such maladaptive behavior?

Perhaps you just want to avoid negative emotions such as a deep fear of failure, but instead you enter a game where you don’t allow yourself to succeed either. You look for distractions to delay important tasks that you know are crucial for fulfilling your career needs.

Overcoming procrastination

The key to controlling such a destructive habit is to gain awareness of the moment you start procrastinating, understand why it happens and take healthy steps to defeat it.

Procrastination is in fact "a temporal gap between intended behavior and enacted behavior", according to psychologist Professor C. Lay. So let’s try some creative motivational techniques that aim to bridge this gap.

Three ways to beat procrastination

Here are three theories which offer approaches to help you overcome your productivity block:

 The Anti-Procrastination Sheet

The theory behind this technique is to analyse and test your negative assumptions and look at them realistically for what they truly are. Your assumptions might not always be so realistic after all. In fact not all our thoughts are based on reality.

To summarise this approach, Professor D. Burns of Stanford University says there are four steps to follow by making some simple notes:

1. Create a list with five columns:
 Predicted Difficulty (0-100 per cent)
 Predicted Satisfaction (0-100 per cent)
 Actual Difficulty (0-100 per cent)
 Actual Satisfaction (0-100 per cent)

2. List your tasks.

3. Rate the Predicted Difficulty and Satisfaction for each task.

4. Once a task is complete, rate its Actual Difficulty and Satisfaction to find out how rewarding it actually was completing the task and whether your expectations were realistic.

 The Anti-"Yes, but…" Method

This technique has more to do with all the "Yes, but..." excuses you tell yourself to convince yourself that you can avoid or procrastinate a task. You could send a CV today "But…".

What you need to do is to write down all your "Yes, but…" excuses, then write an anti-"Yes, but…" for each one.

For example "I should send a CV now, but I’m not in the mood" becomes "I’ll feel more like it once I get started. When I’m done, I’ll feel satisfied and I won’t have to worry for a while".

Next, try to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing, so you don’t lose sight of the big picture of your career and how these actions are helping.

 The Tic-Toc Technique

This technique aims to overcome negative thoughts and beliefs that block you from taking action.

You first need to write down a list of the thoughts that get in the way when you face a situation such as having to write a motivation letter - one of the most daunting steps of the job hunting process.

Next, you have to recognise the emotion behind these thoughts and beliefs and rationalise them objectively. Be sure to take a close look at distorted thinking patterns that regularly occur, such as, "I’m going to fail" or "I’m not good enough".

What is the effect of believing this automatic thought? What could be the effect of changing your thinking? Lastly, write down how you’d advise a friend in the same situation - your advice might be more useful than you think!

Practice anti-procrastination

The actions suggested above could be small steps toward a particular goal, such as writing a motivation letter, or they could be actions that reflect what you want to be about as a person.

Usually, taking effective steps means being willing to encounter obstacles and take action anyway. What stands between you and living your life as you want it?

Melania Zampieri


Melania Zampieri

I am a licensed psychologist and support internationals living in the Netherlands. I run my private practice in Utrecht, in Amsterdam and on Skype both for English and Italian speakers...

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