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Finding Opportunities When Times are Tough

 Economic bad news, people not returning phone calls, rejection letters, and similar disappointments can be immobilizing when you want to move ahead in your job search, change careers, or develop a business. It’s important in tough times to have a strategy to sustain momentum—even when creating a breakthrough seems the impossible.

A Strategy
One winning strategy is to stay focused on your actions and ignore the scoreboard. This means to commit to doing as many tasks as possible to further your goals without assessing the immediate results. Keep a list of the actions you take—and acknowledge yourself for the effort. Have faith that the energy you expend today will pay off at some time in the future. Thomas Edison put it like this: “Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.”

Action Steps
The following list includes both work and personal life tasks. That is because taking action on all things that you have in your control is energizing and empowering and therefore increases the odds that you will attract new opportunities.

Commit to doing five to ten of the following that make sense for you.

  • Identify three positions, types of jobs, career paths you want to take or businesses you want to investigate.
  • Read a minimum of one newspaper daily.
  • Go to library, speak with the librarian, and find out about trade journals and books that might help you.
  • Go to bookstores and look at things of interest that may generate ideas.
  • Try to identify people who have done what you want to do. Read about them, interview them, and enlist them as mentors.
  • Join a professional organization or an organization that is related to a special interest.
  • Write an article on something you feel is important or in which you have expertise. Then send it to your contacts.
  • Talk to people you don’t know, say, at parties or events.
  • Write a list of people you have known over the last five to ten years, but with whom you haven’t kept in touch.
  • Contact the people on the list.
  • Write a list of professionals with whom you have done business. How may they be helpful in generating contacts or ideas?
  • Read books or magazine articles that discuss future trends and create ideas around where you could make a contribution. This might include programs you could run, products you could sell, materials you could write. Even if you believe these to be fantasy or unrealistic, have fun with it.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Become aware of people who drain your energy and limit contact with them.
  • Plan and make cold calls even if you hate it. Then congratulate yourself for doing it.
  • Make yourself network. Expand and maintain your contact base. Set goals for contacting a specific number of people each week.
  • Do something bold that is out of character or different from what you normally do. Change your routine or the way you dress. Put a new message on your answering machine. Listen to different music. Change your marketing materials. Paint a room. Alter the way you deal with people.
  • Determine what new skill would you like to learn. Then take a class or attend a lecture.
  • Listen to audiotapes on something you want to learn.
  • Research areas of interest on the internet. Check out career and business-related sites.
  • Determine what nearby place would you like to visit, then go there.
  • Visit a trade show.
  • Volunteer.
  • Get on boards or join associations.
  • Develop a personal or business website.
  • Write a column or a letter to the editor.

Reprinted from