Dear Unemployed Job Seekers: A Thank You Would Be Nice
The Standard You Walk Past is the Standard You Accept

Skill vs. Will



For the past several months, I've been meeting weekly with unemployed job seekers to help them find new jobs. I give them feedback on their resumes, do practice interviews with them and show them the best ways to find out about job leads, etc. I also coach them on setting and keeping weekly job search goals. 

As we go through this process together and I observe what's happening, what's beginning to emerge for me is the need for people to get clear with themselves about why they aren't taking certain actions.

Is it because they lack skill? Or is it because they lack will?

Initially, the participants in my groups weren't making progress because they lacked skill. For example, they didn't know how to interview effectively, so they needed information, practice and feedback to develop those capabilities. They weren't sure about the activities that would give them the most bang for their buck (like networking) so they needed to learn better strategies for making connections and building relationships. 

But at a certain point, we are no longer talking about lacking key knowledge or skill. We are now talking about lacking the will to actually implement the steps they know need to be taken. We can do all the education in the world, but if the will to actually change behavior isn't there, then there's no point. 

I bring this up because I think that skill vs. will applies to all of us in thinking about changes we want to make in our lives and careers. Sometimes we can get hung up on gathering more information, needing to become more "skilled" when really our problem is that we lack the will to just start DOING things. 

Here's an example from my own life. I need to get more organized and more structured in my schedule. I can see the many things I'm not accomplishing because I'm undisciplined in my approach to my work, wanting to just let the creativity flow. So I've spent a lot of time reading about various productivity systems, looking at blog posts and newsletters on the topic. There's no shortage of information to help me develop the skill. 

But at this point, my lack of progress in doing anything about it is more about my WILL to change. All this research and "skill-building" I'm doing helps me avoid the issue of my lack of will to alter my behaviors. Rather than focusing on the skill, I need to focus on developing (or discovering) my will. 

One strategy I'm trying to find my will is doing some journaling about what my work life will look like once I get all these productivity improvements going--envisioning that perfect future as a way of inspiring myself to move forward. This has proven powerful in other realms for me, so I'm thinking it will help here. 

I've also decided to go back to my own advice--to do some 30-day trials where I try to stick with one or two productivity strategies for a month and see how they go. I'm planning to journal about the experience as well. I'm hoping that by experimenting and experiencing the change I want to create, even on a very small level, that will help me build my will. The journaling will be a way for me to see progress, further inspiring me to continue. 

It might be helpful for you, too, to look at areas of your life where you want to make change and where you feel like you aren't seeing the progress you want.

Is it because you are trying to "build skill" before you make changes or is it because you lack the will to just do it? If it's lack of will, then all the skill-building in the world isn't going to make you actually change. You need to focus on finding the will to propel yourself forward. 


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