The following is an excerpt from “Voyager/Veteran: The Journey to a Successful Job Search Mindset.”

In an often complex and competitive job market, attempting to take shortcuts can deprive an applicant of the opportunity to experience a productive journey and the ability to project the attitude necessary to successfully achieve meaningful employment.

To further address the destructive and deceptive nature of shortcuts, we paraphrase and borrow from the words and works of Dan Waldschmidt, a popular business strategist, professional speaker and blogger.

His insights suggest a realistic similarity of success as it applies to life pursuits, the world of business operations and the process of job search in today’s employment environment, as indicated in the following observations:

Job search, like success, is a mindset, not just a point in time

It seems as though everything we’ve been told about job search success generally revolves around a single point in time.

A person completes a three-hour or three-day workshop on job search, they get an interview or a job offer — It’s all about that celebratory feeling we get from an accomplishment.

Key events like getting a DD-214 (with an honorable discharge designation), graduation from college (with a degree) or completion of a training program (with certification), make us feel successful — they are all mementos to indicate achievement.

The fact is that without such recognizable results, it is sometimes difficult to gauge success. That is why it’s necessary to understand and accept that success is less about an emotional feeling of symbols and more of a philosophical pursuit that requires disciplined thinking.

As I mentioned previously, the job search begins with the simple basics: cover letter, resume (how to market and promote yourself to prospective employers), preparing for the interview and follow-up.

Job search, like success, is a way of life

It’s critical to productive outcomes to seek, promote and maintain a success-oriented mindset rather than seeking the outward signs of success.

The so-called successes achieved by way of shortcuts generally result in the inability to maintain forward progress over the long haul when it becomes necessary. You can either spend time trying to give the outward appearance of success or you can focus upon doing the difficult things required to realize your dreams, but you really can’t do both.

Focusing one’s energies and ideas on a dream and turning that dream into a reality is difficult enough. It’s a stress-loaded, rolling-in-the-mud, a blood, guts and beer kind of struggle. It requires a special kind of mental toughness and endurance to survive and come out on top.

So while we struggle to bring our dreams and aspirations to fruition, it sometimes seems as though the world at large is putting barriers in our way, tempting us to consider taking shortcuts. And why not? Everyone else is doing it, right?

The answer does not always come easily. We have to work at it. That’s because real life is difficult, and shortcuts eventually become more of a hindrance than a help. More time is spent in trying to undo the damage caused by a shortcut and starting over again, than is spent in doing things right from the start. The following four thoughts about taking shortcuts need to be considered on your journey through life in general, and job search specifically:

1. Initiating a shortcut is admitting failure from the beginning.

Such a consideration can be mentally damaging — if we really believed that realizing the goals we set for ourselves were possible, we’d be less inclined to take shortcuts. Admittedly, we all have similar second-guessing thoughts, doubts and fears: “Am I capable of making this happen? Do I have the intestinal fortitude to move forward into unknown territory?”

If our response to these kinds of questions is taking a shortcut rather than accepting the challenge of what lies ahead, aren’t we really saying to ourselves (and eventually to others) that we are self-identifying as an unaccomplished individual?

And yes, entering into that territory requires the posturing and arrogant behavior that says, “I know what I’m doing.” All the while the internalized self-acknowledging message is, “It probably won’t work, and I’ll be lucky if it does.”

If we do find ourselves the victim or our delusional shortcut outcomes, getting back on track only requires simple, “out-of-the-box” steps like:

  • Getting up several hours earlier to start the day.
  • Getting in touch with friends and acquaintances and asking for help.
  • Avoiding events, activities and people that keep us from focusing on things that matter.

2. Taking a shortcut is an inappropriate reaction to handling fear.

When we come up against an overwhelming barrier to achieving a goal, we can either run from it or we can face it (otherwise known as the “Flight or Fight Syndrome”). Sometimes, when we want to do something worthwhile with our lives, it seems as though the whole world begins to throw obstacles in our way. It can get downright depressing, which in turn can create the fear that we will never reach our goal. The temptation to make an end-run around that feeling of fear is an attempt at taking the easy way out. It’s called a shortcut.

Just know that it is okay to be afraid. But taking a shortcut is a “flight” reaction, rather than that of “fighting” and championing our own cause. So, if we catch ourselves running away from personal success, we should have no expectation of getting closer to achieving personal dreams.

3. Shortcuts short-circuit the energy required to overcome barriers.

Bowing to the mistaken belief that we can fully realize our ultimate dreams without establishing a vested interest in the outcome through passion, commitment, hard work and time is an exercise in stupidity. In other words, the expectation that we can get more out of life by doing less is an invalid assumption, and characteristic of a faulty shortcut mentality.

Continuing the struggle in the face of overwhelming odds and achieving the goal provides the individual with renewed energy and insight in preparation for the next struggle to come along. Taking shortcuts does nothing to prepare the warrior for surviving the next engagement.

4. Taking a shortcut on the path to success is no guarantee of reaching the destination.

More often than not, it is impossible to determine when we will be successful in attaining the goals we have set for ourselves. Therefore, it is also impossible to initiate a shortcut to a destination that doesn’t exist.

So the question arises for millions of individuals who suddenly get what they have been wishing and working for, and then find out that they no longer want it: “Why?”

Part of the answer lies in the fact that the achievement of a goal is more of a mindset. It is an internalized ongoing development that, when properly nurtured, evolves and adapts to the environment in which it exists.

Sometimes we realize the original goal is not what we thought it would be after we achieve it. What then? Well, an open mind adapts and continues to move forward seeking new goals.

Yes, eventually we do reach worthwhile end results. And when we do, the focus should not be on what has been achieved but on the journey taken to get there. What did we learn from the journey? Does it provide a model for setting and achieving future goals?

Frequently, many of us fail to visualize a big enough goal. We tend to compartmentalize and hide the dream in a small, protective cocoon-like environment, out of sight of those who might criticize.

The Universe, similar to our mindset, has an ability to mysteriously materialize dreams far beyond what can be imagined when shortcuts are excluded.

The Universal Laws of Success dictate that achievement of end goals is built upon incremental steps, not giant quantum leaps. There is no wisdom gained in taking shortcuts and bypassing the struggle. The step-by-step things one needs to do to achieve results always involves a learning process.

Struggles are the best learning experiences on this journey we call life. They shape and mold us into better beings.

— Pete (P.D.) Pritchard is a Certified GCDF (Global Career Development Facilitator), a graduate of the Lila Atchison School of Community Service and Public Affairs at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where he received master’s and bachelor’s degrees. He has an associate degree in Criminal Justice Disciplines from Shasta Junior College in Redding, California. Pritchard helps veterans develop and marshal the self-motivational skills needed to move forward with their lives after serving their country.

His book, “Voyager/Veteran: The Journey to a Successful Job Search Mindset” is available for pre-order now and hits bookshelves April 6, 2021.

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