Breaking through self-sabotage to update your tired resumé

Are you dragging on your efforts to update your resume? Don’t add “procrastination” to your job description. Resumé Jiu-Jitsu. (Part 2 of 2)

USMC martial arts exercise. (Public domain image by a U.S. military or Department of Defense employee, taken or made as part of official duties)

WASHINGTON, December 11, 2016 — You’ve decided it’s time to look for another job. You know the first thing you need to do is freshen up your old resumé. And if you followed our suggestions in our previous article, you’ve already developed a list of skills and accomplishments that will make your new resumé a winner.

But wait. How long have you been taking to update that resumé? A month? Six weeks? More?

If you haven’t finished this key task approximately two weeks from the day you decided to do it, you may be resisting action for some reason that’s deeper than the easy excuses you’re tossing off in casual conversation. Inside your head, you may still be conflicted on actually embarking on a new job search. You may even be secretly denouncing yourself for committing mental self-sabotage by procrastinating.

But stop. It’s not worth beating yourself up about. Your ongoing, self-defeating delay is completely understandable. It is also possible to reverse.

Why People Stay in Dead-end Jobs

As humans, we tend to resist pain. We’ll put up with a lesser pain in order to avoid experiencing a perceived bigger pain, even if putting up with that bigger pain temporarily could and likely would lead to long-term satisfaction.

Sometimes we relieve tension by complaining about it. This emotional outlet usually gives us temporary relief from a nagging problem. The problem is, we have to keep on complaining, repeating this behavior as long as the discomfort lasts… and as long as we can find people still willing to listen to us.

Read also Part 1 of this series:  Hate your current job? Get cracking with ‘Resumé Jiu-Jitsu’



A considerable number of individuals run their entire day-to-day lives this way, constantly enduring little pains to avoid big ones they might possibly encounter. This behavior pattern can turn into a major obstacle, however, particularly when it comes to doing what needs to be done to find a newer, better job—which inevitably includes updating that tired and out-of-date resumé.

The pattern of resumé procrastination: endure the misery of mental paralysis, moan and groan about it to a willing (or unwilling) audience, latch on to some kind of temporary fix (or excuse) like the occasional “mental health day,” rinse, repeat.

Individuals like the kind we’re describing—or maybe you—are frequently able to endure low-level emotional pain (like a miserable job situation or relationship) pretty much indefinitely. For them, this situation is far easier to endure than the agony and fear of actually doing something definitive.

This pattern gradually becomes a way of life. It does so because such individuals may never understand that choosing to endure ongoing emotional pain and constant dissatisfaction with life means they’ve handed over the control of their own lives and destinies to someone else and only have themselves to blame for it.

Resumé Inertia

For many people, the emotional and physical inertia we’ve just described is far easier to endure than the emotional risk of taking action. If you’re one of these people, ask yourself honestly: Is the thought of updating your resume (but not doing it) a condition that’s easier to bear than actually doing it? If your answer is “Yes,” you may have to do a workaround to break through this mental impasse.

Many individuals can successfully break through this kind of block by first going around it but in the same general direction. For example, they may choose to encounter and overcome equally frightening but related issues, like actively but quietly preparing to leave a job cleanly by closing files and completing uncompleted tasks in a way that helps them gain better control of their life situations.

With everything at the current job brought up-to-date, streamlining and de-cluttering what remains makes the path to success and happiness clearer and brighter. Somehow, the remaining steps and details become gradually less daunting. That can make it considerably easier to sit down and fix that resumé, since all other work issues have essentially been settled.

With loose ends wrapped up, there’s nothing more to worry about, at least in this part of your life. Update that resumé today and you’ll be ready to start that job search in the morning. With confidence.

The flip side? Many people figure out ways to remain “sort of okay” in not-too-terrible jobs or relationships for long periods of time. It’s entirely possible they’re not yet emotionally committed enough to an alternative to make a clean break from their current situation.

Others people simple endure a problem until something definitive actually happens to them—until, in effect, someone takes an action for them, as in laying them off. In the end, even taking no action is actually a decision—a decision to passively hand a problem off to someone else.

If you find yourself contemplating a job or career change, remember: Whatever you decide to do is ultimately up to you, and so are the consequences. Don’t passively avoid making a real decision by simply enduring the lesser-of-two evils version of emotional pain. Instead, choose to endure the more acute—but briefer— discomfort that can more quickly bring your problem to a positive conclusion.

If you’re convinced it’s time to move on, choose to rewrite your resumé and do what it takes to bring your uncomfortable employment situation to a happier, more fulfilling conclusion. It will be well worth the time and the effort even if it means confronting temporary emotional pain.

For better or worse, that anonymous old sage was right: No pain, no gain.

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