How to Make It Through a Job Search Marathon

Walker Brown

Have you ever quit a job you detested in search of something more fulfilling, or do you intend to do so in the near future? If you want to transition through this era painlessly, you should be aware of three key points.

1. Frustration is an unavoidable part of life.

Let’s face it: looking for work isn’t the most exciting way to spend one’s time. Even if you detested your previous job, the euphoria will wear off after a few weeks, and you may discover that freedom is not as appealing as you had imagined.

Your real problem will start after you’ve finished “enjoying the beautiful weather” and have caught up with all the friends you’ve talked to at least twice. Life can become meaningless if you aren’t sure what you want and only know what you don’t want to do (stay in the job you despise!).

Expect your days to be filled with endless follow-up emails and phone calls, as well as a sharp mix of worry and frustration. You might stop picking up your friends’ calls because you’re afraid of the question that will be asked – how’s the job search going?

What can be done about it:

Create a structure and routine for yourself throughout the day that you can stick to no matter what happens. The fact that you are not working does not automatically imply that you should go around the house half-naked.

Job hunting will become a full-time job for you, but it must be structured as if it were just another job. Set some daily goals for yourself so that you feel like you’ve accomplished something – for example, send out 10 resumes per day. Make sure you have goals outside of your job search as well – you can volunteer, start learning something new on the internet, read 10 pages of a book, do 50 squats, and so on.

Viktor Frankl, a well-known psychologist who spent years in Nazi camps, believed that people who survived genocide had one thing in common: their lives had some meaning and purpose (such as serving others or researching a scientific problem they’ll be able to solve once they’re out of the camp). Make a list of goals for yourself.

2. Self-criticism has the potential to eat you alive.

The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t get an interview or a job offer, but that you start asking yourself questions when things don’t work out for a while.

What if that continues indefinitely? What if I don’t find anything extra special and am just a daydreamer? What if I’m not up to it for the rest of the time and end up back where I started?

We’re really good at making life difficult for ourselves with our own hands. People who are particularly good at this are those who have been more successful, as they have a tendency to have a lot more expectations about what they need to do and how the world should look.

What can be done about it?

Allow yourself space and time. It can take some time to figure out what you really need, and it’s more of a case of attempting rather than considering. If you’re really strapped for cash, you might want to make a quick decision so you don’t have to go into survival mode.

You’re not doing yourself any favors by demanding results right now and never allowing yourself to recover (does it really help that you’re torturing yourself over and over)?

Be considerate of yourself. Your situation is not going to be simple on its own. If you stop expecting quick results from yourself and instead give yourself time, the frustration you’re feeling will be greatly reduced.

Please understand that there is nothing wrong with you. Start regaining your confidence; if you’ve frolicked in an unsuitable function or environment, chances are it’s been severely harmed. Ask your friends to compliment you on your good qualities, or write down all of the times you’ve felt like a winner and read them every day.

3. You may decide to put your life on hold until you find work.

You might run out of money and decide that you shouldn’t entertain yourself until you’ve discovered something.

Even when they have enough money, people in such situations frequently adopt a “shortage” mentality and stop denying themselves every single pleasure that costs money (and others, too), not because they can’t, but because they’re effectively suspending their lives until they find work. For many of them, this is what makes the job search situation so unbearable.

What should I do about it?

Your life may be frustrating at times, but it can also be enjoyable – and enjoyment does not always cost money. Please understand that your happiness and success are not contingent on whether or not you find work tomorrow, and you can choose to be completely happy at any time in your life.

Every day, do something to help yourself stay in a positive frame of mind. It’s especially important because when you’re attempting to learn something, you want to make certain you have enough energy to keep going. Constructive ideas and experiences build up your power, while destructive ones deplete it.

So approach it as if you’re training for a marathon – it’ll be difficult at times, and you’ll have to set some limits for certain things. It’s entirely up to you how you remember this period of your life – as something you wished would pass quickly, or as something that was both difficult and full of new pleasant experiences.