A few years ago I found myself jet-setting around the U.S., speaking at job clubs, universities, non-profits, etc.  I thought my message was sharing (a) strategies and (b) tactics to help you take control of your career.

Dick Bolles (author of What Color is Your Parachute) set me straight and told me that my message was really, and simply, a message of hope.

Susan Joyce (brilliant owner of Job-Hunt.org) was at a a presentation in Massachusetts and said “your next book should be titled On Purpose Branding” (or perhaps Purposeful Branding), since that was a big part of my presentation.

I love hearing what others think my message is, because it helps me clarify what I want my message to be.  After Susan gave me this feedback I found myself using on purpose and purposeful a lot more.  I find myself thinking about doing things on purpose, instead of letting them happen to me.

Going to college, without any idea why, and choosing an easy major, might be a good example of letting things just happen to you.

Getting a job that is comfortable, but doesn’t provide you with a career path, or even a good income, is an example of letting things just happen to you.

Doing a job search without a smart strategy for 2015, but spending more time on job boards and reading blogs and playing online sudoku, is an example of not being purposeful.

Fake networking, the kind that is painful and doesn’t get you anywhere, just to turn in metrics at the end of the day or week (“I talked to three people today!”), is an example of letting things happen to you.

Purposeful, on the other hand, is knowing what you are after, and doing what it takes to OWN the results.

Instead of “there are too many things out of my control, so there’s really nothing I can do,” you say to yourself “Today I’m going to do A, B, and C, and that will help me get what I need to get! I can do this!”

Purposeful actions show that you still hope. You hope there is a better future, you hope that what you do will have an impact, and you hope that you can make a difference in the world, or at least get back to paying all of your bills and having some fun money at the end of the month.

If your job search lacks hope, or is not purposeful, you better talk to someone.  Mine lacked both, and all I did was spun my wheels and got deeper and deeper into a bad place.