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Figuring Out What's Next: Step 2 - Ouching

By Renee Lee Rosenberg

Once you have completed your assessment exercises in the “Wanting” stage you will have a greater self-awareness, a clearer idea of what you want, what is important and what you can offer to a prospective employer.  Knowing your values, skills, and interests will help you to focus your job search and help you to explore setting realistic goals.

“Ouching,” the second stage of the three part WOW job search requires an attitude of Acceptance.

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This is the stage where you may begin to feel the pain of negative thinking about your job search. It is also the stage where you need to work on realizing how capable you are, learning strategies for accepting the reality of the present situation, overcoming your doubts and moving forward with a positive attitude. It is simply understanding and dealing with the a reality of your job search; knowing where you stand, what are your strong points, weak points and being able to convey what you have to offer to your target employer.

This stage is about learning to accept your situation, dealing with it, and learning strategies to increase your competitiveness.

I like to describe this stage as the ”Ouching” stage because it is here where you may be feeling the pain and need to focus your energy to get beyond it.

The work will consist of learning to deal with your fears, whether real or not, with worry, and with other negative thinking patterns that may interfere with a successful job search campaign.

The ABC / DE Approach

In his book, Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman, explains how negative thinking can be turned around to positive thinking by following his simple ABC / DE approach. Let’s look closer at how this can help you.

An activating event ("A"), like losing a job, creates negative thoughts, like never finding another job. These thoughts become beliefs ("B"), and those beliefs actually prevent positive action. The beliefs create circumstances ("C") that generate the expected, negative outcome - becoming a self fulfilling prophesy. To counter them, Seligman recommends disputing ("D") those beliefs to derail the process by collecting and focusing on the evidence ("E") that the beliefs are wrong.

You may believe you are too old to get another job and, therefore, you may start to exhibit behaviors that are not the best for a positive job search result. Some of these behaviors may be:

  • Lack of preparation for the interview.
  • Incomplete research of the company you are targeting.
  • Not networking properly.
  • Responding only to openings on job search boards, and so on - just looking for any job rather than pitching your experience and expertise.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example of how Seligman’s approach can help turn your job search into a positive experience:

  • “A” the activating event is being downsized from your job.
  • Now you move into “B” your belief that stems from this event. “I will never be hired at a good company because I’m too old and they only want younger employees.”
  • “C”, is the circumstance you now create for yourself based on your Belief. “I will not get a job because of my age, so why bother to put too much effort into the search or why bother to look at all, no one will hire me”.

This is the "Ouching" we all do when we give in to our negative thoughts.

Now, here is the important part to turn your thinking from negative to positive.

  • “D” is disputing your negative beliefs by gathering evidence,
  • “E” - the evidence gathered - shows you are still a viable and desirable candidate and capable of landing a new job.

What evidence do you look for?

  • Gather testimonials of people who can speak to your competence.
  • Review your skills and accomplishments on your assessments exercise (Step 1).
  • Look for real life, everyday mentors, examples of people 50 plus who are still working and others who have landed jobs in their 50’s and 60’s.

Register with Google Alerts and get notified whenever there is an article in the media about successful workers/ job seekers at 50, 60 and yes, even 70 and 80. Look for the positive press. Don’t read the negative press stories.

Beyond Ouching

Move beyond the “Ouching” by creating for yourself a positive action affirmation that you will repeat to yourself and write down and display in prominent places in your home, for example, on your bathroom mirror, your front door, and the refrigerator next to the note that reminds you to eat healthy.

The affirmation needs to be short, 7 words or less, so that you can remember it, and it must be expressed in the present tense.

It needs to be positive and specific, and must be about something you want to achieve. An example might be: “I am a bookkeeper in (name your target employer)”. Or “I ‘m happily employed at a small company as a (job title you want).”

Present tense is important because you fool the mind into believing you are already doing what you want - working.

NEXT: Step 3, Winning

The next article in this series will discuss the third stage in the WOW job search process, “Winning” which requires you to create for yourself a sense of adventure.

Back to Step 1, Wanting.


About the author...

With a Master's degree in Vocational Counseling, Boomer Renée Lee Rosenberg, MA, is a specialist in vocational counseling, career management, job search, and retirement. Renée is also a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) with over 25 years of experience helping individuals navigate career change, cope with stress, and achieve successful outcomes and a Certified Five O’Clock Club coach for over 20 years. For more information about Renée, visit her websites RetirementTutor.com and PositivityPro.com. You can also find her Profile on LinkedIn, send her an email at renee@retirementutor.com, or call her office at (212) 924-2117.


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Guide to Job Search for Boomers & Those Over 50:

Over 50 / Boomer Job Search Concerns:


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Figuring Out What's Next for Over 50 / Boomers:

Developing Your Personal Success Plan for Over 50 / Boomers:

Making Your Best Impression for Over 50 / Boomers:

Over 50 / Boomer Career Pioneers:

Over 50 / Boomer Career Change:

Additional Resources:


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