“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity…”
There is no doubt that the job search can feel like a wild roller coaster ride – one minute you’re up and feeling great, and the next you’re down and discouraged. We may go through times of interviews and activity, and then times when we have few or no responses. There may be days when we’re confident, and days when it seems anxiety and fear rules – and the “what-ifs” take over. Sometimes we may even feel, “Why bother.”
The emotional ups and downs – the fears and unknowns – are often part of this journey. This especially can happen when a job search lasts longer than expected.
I recently worked with a client who was discouraged and overwhelmed by the length of her search. “Jane” had been laid off as part of a business group re-organization. In the beginning she was motivated and in daily action – setting goals every night for the next day. She had a number of interviews and thought surely after a few months she would have a new position. However, she was surprised to see the search taking longer than expected. Jane’s confidence and activity began to wane. She started to put off looking, saying, “Tomorrow I’ll really get going.” Tomorrow would come and she just couldn’t seem to get focused. She began spending more time watching TV, playing games on her computer, and doing other “non-job search” things to occupy her time. Finally, with the encouragement of friends she reached out for help and contacted me.
In our initial conversations, Jane didn’t feel as if anything would make a difference. “I’m tired of looking and looking with little to show for it,” she said. We acknowledged and talked about the frustrations of this process. As a first step I shared that when we feel stuck, a key to re-energizing is to focus in on a few simple, concrete and achievable steps. As challenging as it may seem, focusing in on a few actions can help by changing our energy and “jumpstarting the engine.”
Jane and I came up with several ideas that were specific and she felt attainable. We redefined success as focusing each day on at least one step/task that she was willing to take and complete. This included:
- Identifying Specific Actions
- Instead of having general statements or a large list of tasks, Jane and I identified several concrete actions. For example, she listed going to a local networking meeting with the intention to speak to at least one person and share an aspect of her career interests. In the past, Jane found it challenging to start a conversation at these types of events, so she created and practiced a few conversation starters that were comfortable and natural. I also suggested she make a list of things she was proud of. It’s a great way to remember our strengths and accomplishments.
- Increasing Support
- Jane realized she was spending a lot of time alone and in the process, had become isolated and focused on her fears and negative beliefs about not finding work. She decided to reach out to a friend for support, encouragement and the opportunity to socialize. She also joined a networking group that provided additional positive encouragement and ideas.
- Physical Activity
- It’s been shown that even brief physical activity can help relieve stress, and create a change in our emotional and mental state. Jane decided that once a day she would go outside and take a short walk. The intent was not to go from “a to z” – from sitting on the couch to saying “tomorrow I’m getting up and walking five miles.” Instead the intent was to take smaller steps such as “I’ll start out be taking a ten minute walk” so it leads to consistent action.
- Understanding Expectations
- Jane began to understand more fully the challenges and unpredictable nature of a job search. We identified a couple of additional coping techniques such as calling someone when she got frustrated, or taking advantage of a continuing education program to keep engaged. Just as important was the need for Jane to acknowledge the positive steps she was taking.
Jane and I continued to assess her progress. By developing this focused “step” plan she was able to start moving forward again. Just by being able to get up off the couch and in action brought some relief. She also developed a more honest assessment of the emotional impact of the job search, and the ongoing challenges of moving through those roller coaster ups and downs!
Having specific and concrete steps and support is critical to weathering and being successful in the twists and turns of the job search journey.
For ideas and help with your job and career journey, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information is available at janicehellercareercoach.com
Let’s journey together!