The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping” is playing for the 100th time—I’m slightly exaggerating, it’s more like the 37th time—since Thanksgiving Day on my car radio as I’m once again pulling into the Target parking lot. In my N.J. suburban neighborhood, about a 30-minute drive into New York City (or one-to-two hours during the weekly commute, depending on traffic and if the trains or buses haven’t broken down again), the weather has been cold and rainy, with an overhang of ominous gray, dark and foreboding skies. It’s definitely unlike how the movies and television portray lovely northeastern homes enveloped with a light dusting of snow, snowmen on lawns with cute hats and smoke gently wafting out of the chimney from the the fireplace.
It’s extremely difficult for Type A personalities that want to power through this time of year; it’s especially hard on those who are just trying to muddle through the holiday season. From mid-December until a couple of weeks after the New Year, it is exceedingly challenging to remain focused on your career or job search. There are too many temptations and responsibilities that pull you away from work and achieving your long-term goals.
We have to buy presents for everyone we have ever said “hello” to, and not everything can be bought online at Amazon, which requires numerous runs to Target and the shopping malls. There are always family, social and work events centered around the holidays. Many of us take vacations and the ones remaining are forced to work harder picking up the slack. It also becomes progressively harder to concentrate as we are all thinking about taking off from work, spending quality time with the family and just trying to decelerate and enjoy yourself a little before returning to the rat race in January.
For those of us who desire to be productive (while still enjoying the season), here are some simple tips:
- In addition to your holiday gift list, prepare a list of goals for what you would like to accomplish in the next five-plus weeks. Having a written game plan makes things real; it will enable you to remain focused and also it holds you accountable.
- Try your best to tune out all the distractions. Put on ear muffs when carolers come by your home, turn off the television, or at least be selective when the onslaught of holiday shows and movies come on (how many more times can you watch Elf, Home Alone, Die Hard, Bad Santa or It’s a Wonderful Life?). Just say “no” to invites from family and friends that you don’t particularly like and cut down on excessive shopping trips.
- Put aside a little time each day for your job search. Since you probably haven’t looked at your résumé or checked your LinkedIn profile in a while, this is a perfect time to add new responsibilities, skills, titles, accreditations and degrees that you may have earned over the last year.
- Since many people now put their job search on hold, call a recruiter and set up a meeting. They usually have much more availability than they will next month in January, when everyone returns to their job searches.
- Check out job boards to see what’s going on. There may be fewer job listings as companies slow down hiring, but please remember that there will also be less competition.
- Once you’re shopping, you might as well purchase some new interviewing outfits or just spruce up your wardrobe to look sharp and impress everyone at work.
- Avoid excess, such as too much eating and drinking that you will regret in 2019.
- When you interact with people at functions, do a little networking to find out about new jobs and opportunities.
- As work slows down, use this time wisely to catch up and proactively try to get ahead.
I recognize that I’m being a little bit of a Grinch asking you to do these things, but you’ll soon realize that you’re giving yourself a great present. By putting aside a little time for your job search and career, you’ll feel so much better about yourself in the new year. When everyone else returns to the office in a daze, you will already have updated your LinkedIn profile and résumé, met some great recruiters who have already started working on your behalf, avoided putting on an extra five pounds and stayed aware of what types of jobs are currently available. Best of all, you’re prepared and ready to hit the new year brimming with good cheer and confidence. Happy holidays!