“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
~ Gautama Buddha, Sayings Of Buddha
So you are looking for a job or a business opportunity…or you may be dreaming of becoming self-employed and independent.
Time passes and none of these crystallizes and you start blaming the system, the government your career counsellor, your partner, your wallet, your parents, your genes, the employers, the market, the times, the economic or social situation, the weather, your neighbour…
You see people getting good jobs or becoming independent and start thinking: “but they had this (education, experience, a car, a partner, more years in Canada, luck…), or “they were helped that way (their counselor was nicer than mine, they had access to that program”…you have many powerful reasons: “I’m new”, ‘I’m too young”, “I’m too old”, “I’m overqualified”, ‘I’m under-qualified”, “I don’t know enough well connected people here”, “I’m too new here” and so on…
If you have received services, you become frustrated because they don’t “help” enough…if you were ineligible for free services, you become frustrated because nobody wanted to help.
And you become deeply frustrated and tired (even depressed) and quick to give up and move away from this city, town, country…the pastures always look greener on the other side, right?
While it is true that there are things out there we can’t control, there are also plenty we can…and one thing we certainly can control is how we respond to situations.
The same chain of thoughts and feelings repeats in many other areas of life: relationships, studies, lifestyle changes…and conditions or entire groups: entire communities or groups of employees, even countries tend to think that way (we are poor, or oppressed or left behind or…)
I call this the entitlement-dependency cycle relationship.
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery.
None but ourselves can free our minds.”
~ Bob Marley
First, you are made to think you are entitled to something (a relationship, a feeling or support from another person, a service, or even things), and then you become completely dependent and can’t move forward without that external “help”.
That is the “entitlement” piece…sometimes entire systems are build to make you think that way (and you accept it).
In the second piece, you have become so powerless and dependent of that “other” outside that you can’t move by yourself.
I won’t go further here, but this has deep and long roots in religion and power structures: in personal psychology this is known as “locus of control”: if you have an “internal” locus of control you have realistic control over the things that happen to you (including the ethics you use to live and rule your life, which means you do good because you have come to the conclusion that doing good is needed and the responsible way to live this life); but if your locus of control is external (which is sadly the case for most people), you think things happen because somebody or something else controls your life and what happens with it (and ethically, you do good because you fear somebody or someone is watching or because you fear punishment, not because you believe on it).
The above belief has deep implications on how you behave in relationship with the environment, the social structures, other people, other beings and life in general (including the topic of this post: how you face your own career planning and job search)
There is no arrogance in having an internal locus of control: Instead of arrogance, I want to call it “responsibility”…
Let’s put it clear: nobody is entitled to anything in this world. Human rights are a nice modern invention (and very needed, such as should also be animal rights and Earth’s rights), but they are not a given from the Earth or some powerful being or authority and they don’t come (certainly) from Nature either (Nature and life just “are”, and they can kill you in a second, no matter how prepared, pure or rich you may be)…
If we (as plain beings) are “entitled” to something, that is just life and all its support cycles and “resources”: we may be entitle to water, air, food from the land and a place to lay down and build shelter (and as we may, also other inhabitants of this planet, such as ants and birds and plants)…the rest is a social construct and deeply depends on abundance, transparency of the system and so on…
Coming back to the “job seeker” or any “seeker” topic, services (whether you pay for them or they are offered for free or out of love from somebody who decided to walk the extra mile for you) are not an “entitlement” and you shouldn’t allow them to enable you so much that you become powerless and dependent on whatever the “other” does.
When you switch your locus of control to an external source, you give them power over you and any outcomes (it is also easier for you to blame God, the government, the system, the employers, your counsellor or your best friend if you think they have the power and not you)
In Permaculture we have a principle: “feed what you want to grow”…this comes from observing and understanding how nature and gardens work: if you want to grow certain plants, feed them well. If you want to discourage others, don’t feed them…it is that easy!
In other areas of life this works exactly the same:
- You found a good friend and would like to keep this friendship for years to come? Feed that relationship! Nurture it! The same happens with the opposite: you want to discourage somebody you don’t want in your life? Make yourself unavailable, don’t reach out…
- You want to grow your network because it is well known that good networks increase the opportunity to get good jobs (apart from the “side-effects” such as meeting new friends, getting support and access to information, ideas and resources)…get up and go out! Make a plan to meet new people, keep track and keep in touch…make meaningful connections and pay forward not expecting them to “give” you anything…but be serious! People are busy and may easily forget about you if you don’t care about them…
- You want to get more job opportunities and be closer to a job offer? Or maybe you want to “create” your own job? Easy: get up and go out, make a plan and a schedule, be clear about what realistic skills you have and what you can offer, become clear about what type of jobs you would accept and which ones you are not interested in…and tell everyone! Not just online…
- You want a job but things seem not to be working well? Re-assess your plan…in Permaculture we have another principle: “apply self-regulation and accept feedback”…maybe you are doing something wrong? Maybe you are not focuses enough? Maybe you are not paying attention to details and feedback the environment (and people) around you are providing? Maybe you are spending too much time playing mind games, complaining and seeking for “help” from others but you are not putting enough of your own on it?
- You want to be healthy and slim? Feed the exercise and the fresh and healthy food and forget about sitting all day, watching TV and eating fat, flours and sugars…
- The opposite is exactly the same: if you want dependency, being and feeling like a victim, feeling guilty or powerless, being treated as a second-class citizen and always unhappy, then go and feed those: feed the hatred, the blame, the “poor-me”, the self-alienation, the laziness, the playing mind games with yourself and your future…
If you have been reading this “Job Search series” (or if you are my formal or informal client) you know what my suggestions are.
Now ask yourself:
- Which ones have I done of all these?
- If I haven’t done much, why is this? May it be that I have other priorities? Or may it be that deeply inside I’m expecting something from others they cannot give?
- Who am I giving power over me with my behaviour? How is this helping or excusing me?
- How can I start helping myself?
I belong to what is known as a “helping profession”. Many other similar professions belong to this group: our main “job” is to help others to identify what is going on and to overcome whatever barriers they have so they can move forward with their lives.
As a professional “helper”, I know one thing that is certain: nobody can really “help” another person…no matter how it feels from my side or from your side. My “help” consist in creating awareness through asking the right questions, challenging you, even putting you against the wall and waking you up: “Look!, look at what you have in front of you, what you have before and around you, and look at what you are doing with this precious life you were given”
There is only one exception: when we help those who can’t really help themselves because of a condition or a circumstance, such as when they are really too young (babies), too old, too sick, injured or in deep and immediate danger…but that is different!
That, my dear reader, is the only “entitlement” you have: your life and what you do with it.
So get up, go out and help yourself.
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
~ Rumi, The Essential Rumi