My husband just accepted a new job, and he had to give his new boss a start date. We agreed that he would take a week off before he starts, but it turns out we had very different ideas about what that week would entail.
We both agree that the stress of a job hunt is exhausting, and anyone who has been through that process needs to recharge before embarking on something new. A real vacation — like Paris or the beach – was not possible to plan because we had no advance notice about this job. In fact, though, one does not need to be in an exotic location in order to recharge.
The problem is that my husband's idea of recharging is haphazard and, in my mind, ineffective. But just because you're married to a career expert doesn't mean you want to hear her advice, which is frustrating to me, to be honest. So here is an open letter to my husband about how I think people should spend the week before a new job.
1. Get out from under your oppressive to do list.
It's no fun to start a job weighted down by a big to do list that has nothing to do with your new responsibilities. Take a week to kill your to do list. Anything you can't get done in that week, delete: admit that you are not going to get done in the next year. You can console yourself with the fact that if it's not important enough to do when you have a week with no plans, then it probably wasn't important in the first place.
2. Clear the clutter by devising a new system.
Get rid of all your piles, all your lists, all the projects, all the things that hang over your head but never get done. But going through this mess once is not enough. Figure out a system so that you don't create new piles and lists once your job starts. Piles and lists and unfinished projects are borne of unrealistic ambitions. Acknowledge what you can do and get rid of the other stuff. The pressure you feel to address your unfinished business drains you every day. Create a system that does not generate unfinished business.
3. Get into a routine that supports the lifestyle you want.
Do you want eight hours of sleep a night? You should. People who get less than seven hours of sleep exhibit the same mental signs as someone who has had a little too much to drink. Do you want to exercise regularly? You should. People who exercise regularly have more successful careers. So get started on this during your down week — the week when you have no other commitments except to get your life in gear in preparation for your new job. It's a lot easier to get yourself into a routine when there is no other pressure. And if you can do a week of the life you want you're more likely to keep it up when you start your new job.
4. Have lunch with friends.
Most people avoid their friends when they are looking for a job. Not that this is the right decision, but it is an understandable decision during a time when morale and self-esteem are low. Now that you have a job, though, reconnect with people and let them know how excited you are. Better to do it now, during your interim week, than during your first month of the new job; you never know what your schedule will be like, especially for the first couple of months. Also, be sure to invite people out to lunch who have helped you in your hunt. Even if their help was not particularly fruitful, if they tried, then you should express thanks.
5. Remember who you truly are.
For people who really, really need a job, much of a job hunt is pretending: Pretending you don't need a job. Pretending you love tedious tasks and long hours. Pretending you get along with anyone. Pretending you feel good about yourself. But most people who need a job and can't find one actually do not feel that good about themselves. Once you do find that job, Take a week to get back to your regular self — the valuable, self-confident person you truly are.