Looking for work is a hard job. It takes creativity, focus, resilience and a thick skin. If, along the path, you send out dozens of resumes and barely get an interview, and when you do, you’re not chosen, it can start a spiral of negative thinking that leads to nowhere good. (I know. I’ve been there.) If you’re looking to expand a business, progress often feels fleeting, one step forward, four steps back. The only way to ensure success is to STAY IN THE GAME. But how do you persevere when if feels like no one wants you? Where do you turn for solutions when you’ve hit the wall? Here’s my five-point plan for staying buoyant and refreshed as you chart your career course.
There are so many good reasons to volunteer, but I’ll start with the most basic:
If you have too much time on your hands, and it’s getting harder to motivate yourself off the couch, volunteering will be a reason to leave the house. Find an organization or cause that inspires you. If you’re not sure which one to choose, there’s always getting the vote out for your 2016 Presidential candidate of choice. Career shifts can be isolating. Volunteering will provide a structure for you to mix with a group of people other than your usual cohorts. You could meet a mentor, a future client, a cool new friend and/or if you’re looking, maybe even a date.
You have the chance to acquire a skill that will beef up your resume. And if you’ve been frustrated at not using the talents you already have (whether in your current job or without one), volunteering can give you the chance to flex those strengths.
Demonstrating your passion and expertise in front of a person who could hire you, might lead to an actual job. (This happened to me!)
And perhaps most important of all, you’ll be a part of making the world a better place.
It’s stressful getting through the day in a job you don’t like, or on the flip side, creating structure in your unemployed life. Endorphins really make a difference. They’re a substance-free mood enhancer. Build exercise into your daily routine. Yes, daily. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Walk or bicycle to the market. Jump into the pool at your local Y. Tell someone you know that you’re going to deliver on this. Even better is finding an exercise buddy to keep you company and hold you accountable. Exerting the body calms the mind, and that’s good for your focus. Checking off this one daily task from your to-do list will provide a tangible sense of accomplishment. That’s key with the often amorphous nature of looking for work. There’s a lot you can’t control during a career shift. Count on exercise to be a reliable part of your schedule.
REACH BEYOND YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Commit to a weekly activity that will bring you into a new setting. The ideal is a networking event where you could make contact with potential employers. But what I’m suggesting here is easier and more fun. The ground rule is it has to be an environment that’s not part of your usual schedule. Go to a museum that you reserve as an activity for visiting relatives. Wander into an open mic session at a comedy club. Sit with your laptop at a coffee shop in an unfamiliar neighborhood or town. Commune with orangutans at the zoo. Allow yourself to have different visual and aural experiences. Novelty is a boost for the parts of your brain that promote learning, memory and motivation. Disrupt the circuitry. This could spark a chance meeting with someone who could alter your life or at least your perspective, and just might give you a fresh approach.
BE HONEST WITH YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK
When your identity is tied to work, losing a job or being in a toxic one is hard to admit, especially when it seems like all your friends’ careers are soaring. There’s a lot of shame. And that’s understandable because it’s so human. But we simply can’t surrender to it. Recognizing your value must begin with you. One way to do that is to untether your sense of worth from paid employment. This is not easy. But getting clear on your inherent dignity is an essential component to weathering career change. And it expands your capacity to see this dignity in others. (As a catalyst, see VOLUNTEERING.) Pay closer attention to the voice of wholeness within, and do your best to ignore the internal, negative chatter. Breathe. Though it’s wise to be tactical sharing your employment story with prospective employers, when it comes to your support network, let them know where you’re at. Data suggests that posting a status update on Facebook indicating you’re looking for a job can improve your results. Be brave and be honest. Your loved ones might know a colleague who knows a friend who has an opening, but most importantly, they will continue to love you when you need it the most.
Gratitude may not come easily for some of us, which is why we need to practice. The word comes from the Latin root gratus which means thankful. Create a ritual at least once a day where you take a moment to appreciate 5 good things about your circumstances. Don’t stop at 4, and try to mix it up. (e.g. lavish greeting from your dog on Monday, unconditional sibling love on Tuesday, glazed donut on Wednesday.) Do this whether you’re in the mood or not, and especially when you’re having a horrible time of it. Ask yourself this radical question – what might be one benefit to my situation right now, as uncomfortable as it feels? Consider both the minutiae and grandeur you take for granted. Spring roses, indoor plumbing, Stephen King, a good parking spot, french fries. Say thanks to whoever created sweatpants. Gratitude is transformative. It will change your state of mind and forever change your life.
For more ways to get unstuck, contact me for a complimentary career coaching session.