Staying Up in a Long-Drawn-Out Job Search
No doubt about it, job searching can be a draining, emotionally gut-wrenching, and depressing experience. The world as you know it hangs in the balance throughout a long, anxiety-ridden jaunt through the unknown. As a job search expert, a big part of what I do is help clients stay “up” emotionally throughout the process. I feel for you! So here are some thoughts on how to stay up during an extended job search, contributed by real live job seekers like yourself:
- Treat your body like the temple it is: quit smoking, exercise, eat yummy and nutritious foods, rest well, keep yourself meticulously well-groomed. Pamper yourself! For more great ideas on self-care, go to www.selfnurture.com.
- Get outside each and every day for at least 30 minutes – fresh air, sunshine, and nature are free and powerful medicine.
- Stay away from booze and other chemical depressants.
- Limit Internet, television, and other electronic depressants.
- Volunteer for worthwhile causes where your contributions are truly appreciated.
- Go to church, meditate, do yoga, read inspirational books – do things to keep your perspective.
- Avoid grumpy, pessimistic, critical, demanding people (how to do this if you’re married to one, I don’t know…). Instead, hang out with supportive, energetic, POSITIVE people who are always trying something new. And contrary to your gut instinct, it’s often quite helpful to socialize with other unemployed people as long as they’re perky, can-do folks who are not going to let life get them down.
- Along those lines, spend some time with babies and puppies and kitties – in other words, those who truly experience the joy of living and therefore can offer you unconditional love.
- Get a part-time job that you can get at least a little excitement from.
- Throw yourself a pity party — I’m serious! Invite your wisest, closest friends, dress in black (or sackcloth and ashes if you’re really dramatic), have party favors and appropriate hors d’ouevres (Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?). Go all out and really get it all out of your system, then move on.
- Ask your closest friends to tell you five great things about you.
- Cut yourself some slack if you’re feeling angry, bummed, or tired. Give yourself permission to take a break from the search every so often.
- Go back to school to develop a new skill, whether it’s job search related or something fun you’ve always wanted to learn (like a foreign language, cooking, pottery, dance). Learn something new even if you have to get a student loan.
- Put something purely fun on your to-do list each day – if you look, you can probably find free and low-cost sources of entertainment (free art exhibits and live music at coffee shops, free video and music rentals at the library, etc.).
- Get your expectations on straight. Job searches take a lot time (approximately one month of full-time searching for every $10k in annual salary you’re seeking – in other words, most people’s job searches can be expected to take 4-12 months.)
- Try not to go through your job search like a lead balloon, tense and tight and deadly serious in all you do. Get wacky, laugh a lot, take a lighthearted approach. Instead of getting tangled up in small details (should I email, should I fax, should I write a cover letter?), realize that the people on the receiving end of your application are people too. This means they all respond differently to different things. Instead of following the job search herd, try to think of some goofy, out-of-the-box (yet legal and somewhat professional) ways to get in front of hiring managers. You really have nothing to lose at this point.
- Develop a habit of gratitude to replace the habit of self-pity. I personally count my blessings at least once a day, often in writing, and it’s a great way to stay up when life gets grueling and discouraging.
If you have consistently tried most or all of the above and you’re still seriously bummed out, STOP what you’re doing and get yourself to a qualified, compassionate mental health professional NOW, no matter what – you’ll be very glad you did.