It’s a hard time to be looking for a job. Maybe you’ve been laid off or furloughed. Maybe you question your job security, or maybe you’re just unhappy in your current role. The fact remains: a lot of people are looking to make a move right now. Unfortunately, a global pandemic does not make for a hopping job market.
So how do you progress in your job search and career (or just stay sane) in the midst of so much fear, turbulence, and uncertainty? If this is you, here are some simple self-care strategies to keep you well throughout your job search.
Those who acquire good sense love themselves;Proverbs 19:8
those who keep understanding find success.
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth hearing again. A daily, intentional gratitude practice is scientifically proven to give your mood a boost. I’ve written about my own gratitude practice and how that has helped me through my own transitions and struggles.
A key takeaway from this well-known Ted Talk from inter-faith scholar and monk, David Steindl-Rast, is that happiness comes from gratitude. Not the other way around.
I know it can be difficult to feel gratitude when job searching. Indeed, it’s called a gratitude practice because it’s something that doesn’t come naturally! Sometimes job offers come easily and without much stress or effort, but that’s not usually how it works. How can you feel gratitude when you’re struggling with the rejections, ghosting, and seemingly endless waiting? The answer is to make it intentional.
- Every day write down someone or something you are grateful for in your current job. If you are unemployed, write down the work experiences you are grateful for and the lessons you’ve learned.
- Express your gratitude to the people who are supporting you in your search. Who is on your team? A co-worker? A mentor? Your partner? Write a note, text, or send an email to the people who build you up and do what they can to open doors for you.
- Meditate on the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.” With repetition, biblical affirmations become part of the soundtrack of our minds. Write this one on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror or on your computer screen.
Keep it in perspective
I once heard a political pundit say that things are never as good as they seem and things are never as bad as they seem. This is a statement about perspective and we all need more of it.
It’s true that getting a job IS a job!! Job searchers tend to get laser-focused on job boards, submitting resumes, preparing for interviews, negotiating offers, and networking. If you’ve ever lost actual days concocting the perfect paragraph for a cover letter, you know what I mean.
One self-care strategy is to practice “going to the balcony.”
Here’s how it works: in my head, I picture a big theater with a fancy balcony where I sit and watch the challenging situations in my life play out. From a distance, things often look a little different. As a Christian, I sometimes picture Jesus sitting next to me. Just the idea of his loving presence next to me keeps me centered and reminds me of my identity.
The main benefit of “going to the balcony” is to 1) see my situation more objectively 2) feel more compassion for myself and others 3) cultivate resilience and 4) view my challenges in the light of eternity.
For many Christians, the job search process is a low-point in which God may seem uninterested, unconcerned, or absent. With the proper perspective, we see that this simply isn’t the case.
The LORD will guide you continually and provide for you, even in parched places. He will rescue your bones. You will be like a watered garden, like a spring of water that won’t run dry.Isaiah 58:11
Define Your Values
One of my favorite activities to do with people is to help them identify their career values. These values will likely change in different seasons of life- and that’s OK! I ask people to sort through a bunch of different values and whittle them down to a select few. It’s really hard but really helpful.
Some of my top career values are
- Moral Fulfillment: Feel that my work contributes to ideals I feel are very important.
- Work-Life Balance: A job that allows me adequate time for my family, hobbies, and social activities.
- Location: Find a place to live (geographically) that is conducive to my lifestyle, a desirable home base for leisure, learning, and work-life.
- Knowledge: Engage in pursuit of knowledge, truth, and understanding.
- Fun and Humor: Work in a setting where it is possible (and appropriate) to joke and have fun.
I qualify personal development as self-care because you can’t make the best choices in life if you don’t have an accurate sense of your true self. Identifying your career values helps refine and clarify the roles and opportunities that best fit who you are and your season of life.
This exercise is worth repeating yearly or after big life changes. Like I said, these values shift throughout our careers. Someday when I’m an empty-nester, “location” may not be as important, so other values may become more important.
If you’re interested in doing this activity please contact me! We can do it in-person or virtually! It’s easy, fun, and affordable!
Take a Mental Break
Maybe you’ve just had an interview or a conversation with a lead for a possible job. Chances are you are replaying every word, every non-verbal, and thinking of all the things you wish you would have asked or said. What you’re doing is perseverating.
Perseverate is a great word but its effects are not. It means that you are PERSERVERING in your OBSESSING, and, quite frankly, you need to stop. This will lead you nowhere fast.
def: repeat or prolong an action, thought, or utterance after the stimulus that prompted it has ceased. “They perseverate under stress.”
Go on a bike ride. Clean out a closet. Play a board game with your family. Reread Harry Potter (you may have 99 problems but Voldemort isn’t one of them). Whether it’s a bubble bath or a game of pick-up basketball, self-care for job searchers means taking a mental break.
I know I know! Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Big life stuff tends to weigh on us! Those anxious thoughts lurk just beneath the surface, waiting to pull us down into an endless loop of what-ifs and he-said/she-said/I-should-have-said. If you’re still having trouble, set a timer for 10 minutes and give yourself permission to stew in your anxiety. BUT, when the timer dings, you move on to something else.
Get an accountability partner who will provide a listening ear but will also drag you away from your computer screen if they notice you perseverating beyond what is healthy.
What Self-Care Isn’t
I’m afraid the concept of self-care has become so mainstream and frou-frou that it has lost its resonance.
Self-care is not about an excuse to be lazy, doing what feels good at the moment, or spending money on things you can’t afford…it is about paying attention to your actual health.
Self-care during a job search means tending to your whole self, body, mind, and spirit, and taking time to recognize and affirm your own worth and dignity as a human being and an image-bearer of God.
One more word about job searching: don’t waste this experience. Don’t waste the searching, the confusion, and the disappointments. It may have its moments of misery but it’s also a training ground for becoming a better person and, with that, a better future employee, manager, or boss.
Use this time to listen closely to where and to what you are being called. Believe it or not, the job search process can be a rich and meaningful experience. What are you learning about yourself? What are you hearing from God? How are you using your gifts, experience, and abilities to serve others? Which doors are being opened and which doors are being closed?
Do your part. Prepare, put in the work, and continue to show up. And also? Take care of yourself. 💖