He tells me he’s looking for a job for his brother. He can’t find one because the economy is bad. He says no one is hiring, and that the market sucks.

I have a different viewpoint.

He sees a bad economy and no opportunity for graduating Millennials. He sees entry-level job postings that his brother is not qualified for. He sees no jobs listed for his brother’s skills.

I see that companies are hiring all over, and are desperate for new employees. I see skill sets that his brother can learn. I see an opening to ask companies proactively, instead of waiting for a job position to just open up.

Of course, he might be right about one thing. Statistically, it is harder to get a job as a fresh graduate now than it was decades ago. But, do the statistics matter?

Does it help to know that?

Don’t Believe What’s “True”. Believe What Helps.

Most of our knowledge is just belief.

We believe we are attractive. We believe we are ugly. We believe we are wealthy. We believe we are poor.

Even history is a belief, a story of events we were never there to experience. We intrinsically trust our teachers and books that it happened. And for the most part, it probably did.

But the real truth is that it’s all a matter of perspective. I find some celebrities attractive that others think ugly, and vice versa. I am rich if I compare myself to the homeless, but poor if I compare myself to Snapchat’s CEO.

The ultimate “truth” doesn’t matter here. What matters is that we assign ourselves a label.

Science has a word for our cognitive bias to seek what we think is true.

Confirmation Bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, prefer, and recall information in a way that confirms a belief while giving disproportionately less attention to information that contradicts it. 1

So what happens when you go seeking to be the average? You become it. You find ways to become it. You look for reasons to stay that way.

And if you go seeking to be extraordinary? You become it. You find ways to become it. You look for reasons to stay that way.

My friend’s belief was that the economy sucked and that his brother (and other Millennials) would not find a job. He “tried”, but only within the confines of what he expects is part of the job searching process. Of course, resumes and applications isn’t the only way to get a job. 2 of my job offers out of college did not use an application.

What’s the difference? He believed there is only the process, because he wanted to believe that no jobs existed for him. He wanted to confirm his belief that his generation is screwed. I believed that the “process” was only one approach, and I actively sought ways to get around it. Looking for a way around them, meant I found them.

The statistics are objective, and we place a belief upon them. Knowing what you’re up against is one thing. But believe you’re playing a losing game, and it will become true.

What You Look For, Is What You Get

There is a lot of objective data, and it can all be argued for any belief. What matters is that you can judge your beliefs in relation to what you want, so you unconsciously seek ways to make them true.

1) Recognize every “truth” is only “true” in the past, not the present and future

Statistics objectively show that something in the past is true. The statistics of employment used as evidence against my beliefs are an indicator of what the past was like, even if the past was just months ago. They are only an indicator of what the future could be… if the future was the exact same as the past. And it’s not.

A present truth is NOT a future truth. Combing over data saying the economy sucks doesn’t help you find a job. Complaining about how Millennials are screwed won’t help you find a job.

This can be applied to every other belief you have, too.

Thinking you don’t deserve happiness because of something in the past, means you will be unhappy in the future. You will find ways to sabotage yourself, and will see events from a perspective of self-pity.

Believing you cannot control yourself because you binged on pizza yesterday means you won’t seek ways to change that behavior later. You’ll find ways to binge eat and get mad again, instead of looking and learning ways to control it.

Part of change means recognizing that you are not your past. Your present (and your future) are yours to command. If you’re unsatisfied with the status quo, then recognize your capability to change it. Use this cognitive bias to better your life, not make it worse.

2) Accept that the “truth” doesn’t matter. What matters is if it helps you.

Have you believed you were ugly, weak, or boring? Maybe you were, or maybe you weren’t. Like every other belief, the “truth” is up in the air. Does it help if you constantly worry about it? Will it support your goals, or hinder them?

When you’re feeling ugly, ask yourself if that’s helping you date.

When you’re feeling stupid, ask yourself if that’s helping you learn.

When you’re feeling worthless, ask yourself if that’s helping you to be worthwhile.

Screw the current “truth”. The truth just a perspective, one that can be argued and supported either way.

Ultimately, don’t continue to take the perspective that buries you. Take the perspective that carries you.

Start today.

Footnotes

  1. The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making by Scott Plous. p. 233.