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How to Look for Work When You’re Discouraged

Panicked by the length of your job search? Reframe your feelings

How to Look for Work When You’re Scared

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Refocus your thoughts to get your confident mindset back in check during your job search.

It’s been months—maybe longer. You’re not willing to settle for just any job, but the bills are piling up. You need to land something soon. How can you continue to conduct a positive job search when you’re panicking inside? Take heart: Career coach Kathy Robinson, founder of TurningPoint in Boston, offers calming insight to keep your search on a meaningful, purposeful track.

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Create an affirmative vision of where you’re going. “If you’re feeling desperate, it’s likely that you’re concocting a worst-case scenario and convincing yourself that it’s true: I’ll lose my house, this job search will take forever, no one will hire me at my age! Instead, work toward a best-case scenario: I’ll get a job with much better work-life balance, learning something new, with a supportive boss and a raise,” urges Robinson. Then, she says, set aside time to write out an ideal job description and figure out 10 to 15 target employers in your line of work. Finally, chronicle your progress by keeping a journal that’s exclusively positive—wherein you routinely write down ideas and inspiration for reading, learning, and self-development.

Have realistic expectations, and focus on what you can control. “Many job seekers get desperate because they’ve set arbitrary and unrealistic job-search deadlines or goals for themselves that they’re later disappointed by: ‘If I start a job search now, I’ll get a new job in four months,’ or, ‘I had hoped that job would’ve come through, but they picked someone else!’ You can’t control when you will get a job or which job you get. You can only control what actions you take on a day-to-day basis that will lead to more opportunities if you’re consistent,” Robinson says. Create a weekly, manageable job search game plan and stick to it.

See also: Reboot your job search

You are what you speak, so keep it positive. “The more you speak about your discouragement to others, the more likely you are to get mired in it and unable to move forward, and the more likely it is to seep into your job search conversations,” Robinson cautions. It’s natural to feel glum, of course, so pick two or three confidantes who can support your real feelings. “With everyone else, find a way to compartmentalize your feelings of distress. Make it a point to practice communicating about your search in a positive way: Give a brief synopsis of your ideal job description and some examples of ideal employers,” Robinson recommends.

Find activities that center you—and do them often. “Make sure you’re building positive activities into your life that take your mind away from your job search and your current job, if you have one,” Robinson suggests, like exercise, hobbies, volunteering or neighborhood involvement.  In addition to giving you a respite from searching, your activities may provide outlets for networking or interviewing. “There’s more to life than a job search; find out what that means for you, and plan to incorporate it into your life,” she says.

Take the long view. Although you may feel stuck and discouraged, remember that a months-long search is a tiny blip in a 45-year average career lifespan, says Robinson. “It’s likely that the setbacks you’re perceiving in your search are learning opportunities for something better that’s coming along,” Robinson says. Really! In the meantime, “Think of it as a new chapter: You have a rare opportunity to research career directions, choose a path, and learn new things to prepare yourself for your job search conversations and your eventual next gig.”

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Finally, consider yourself lucky, in a way—those of us at a desk aren’t able to soul-search so deeply. “Most people who are heads-down in their daily grind don’t have the vision or the willpower to undertake what you’ve already started. It may not feel this way every minute, but you’re among the lucky: You have an opportunity, day by day, to work toward a new future for yourself that’s more aligned with your interests,” Robinson says.

Courtesy of Life Reimagined

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