Stuck In Your Job Search? Try Creating An Anti-List!

I have a thing about lists…ok, it is more that I really love lists…well, I guess it would be more accurate to say I am addicted to lists.


Hello, my name is Lisa and I am a list-oholic.


Every morning I have a list of the items I want or need to get accomplished that day.  To prevent myself from having post it notes or actual paper lists all over my office I created a desk with a glass top.  This way I can use a wipe erase marker and list everything out and at the end of the day after I have checked everything off I can simply wipe it away and start fresh.


Did you catch the very optimistic “after I have checked everything off” part in the above sentence?  Because any true list-oholic knows you never check everything off because we have an addition to adding more stuff on.


Sometimes when they are complex or multi-step projects I break them down so I can mark more stuff off.  Sometimes I add things on that I just did just to be able to mark it off.


I didn’t say I was a good list-oholic, but we all need that sense of being able to accomplish something and if that means adding just to check it off then by all means I am all for it.


The point is I have lists for everything.  Grocery trips, projects around the house, cleaning, work, personal errands, goals, dreams – you name it and I probably have a list.  Lists are good.  They give parameters, help keep you on track and remind you of the important items.


It is not uncommon when I am working with a client that they, too, have a list – a list of the type of jobs that they want.  But oftentimes I have clients that are in the grey area.  They are not sure what they want to do next, if they want to continue along the same path they always have or if they want to try something different.  It can be quite overwhelming.


My solution: create a list!  Surprising, I know.


But this is more of an anti-list.


I know when making a list we are told that we should put down everything that we want – everything – and this way you have a clear focus and it helps bring it to you.


Years ago someone suggested I do that to find the “right” man.  I think there is a problem if I have to break a guy down to a series of checks off a list.  And what if you forget something – I mean is it necessary to put things like, “not an ax murderer?”  Or what if you put “never arrested” well what if he got arrested for protesting a really worthy cause and it was later dropped – you could be passing on a perfectly great guy because a list technicality…it was just too complicated so a “guy” list has never been one of my lists.


Anyway, making a list of all the things you want in your next job is all well and fine if you know exactly what you want.  But what if you have no idea of what you want or where to go from here?


Then you start with what you don’t want.  You make the anti-list.


Start thinking about the things you did not like about your past career history or jobs.  Some people do not want to lead a team, others do not want to work on a team, some do not want to do data entry, spreadsheet design, work with clients, file, travel, prepare reports, be responsible for budgets – you get the idea.


Sometimes knowing what you don’t want gives you the freedom to discover something new.


If a job comes across your path and it does not meet any of the anti-list criteria then go for it.  Even if it is not what you have done before or anything you might know – it is a new opportunity and you already know that it does not hold the biggest negatives for you.


It can be hard trying something new or going in a new direction.  We fear the change and desperately want something to hold on to or to cling to for security and safety sake.  Having an anti-list gives us a little comfort in knowing it will not contain what we feel are the worst elements of a position.  It is a minimal amount of security, but security nonetheless.


If you are feeling stuck try making an anti-list.  Then in discovering available opportunities allow yourself to be open to them if they don’t make the list.  It can be quite freeing and rewarding!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.



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