Dealing with Discouragement During the Job Search

Searching for a new job can be an emotional roller coaster. Regardless of why you’re looking for a new job, you’ll likely encounter discouragement, frustration, anger, hope, elation…sometimes all in the same day!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think this is a great list of things to do when you lose your job. Here are a few other ideas I’ve found helpful.

Remember That You Are Not Your Job

My wife and I have been watching Downton Abbey on PBS, and I’m extremely grateful that I wasn’t born in a time or place that judged a person’s worth on his heredity. In the US, though, a person’s worth is often judged by his salary, bank account, or material possessions. (Interestingly, among the aristocracy portrayed in Downton Abbey, working for money was considered shameful, as something beneath the dignity of the nobility.)

In reality, your value as a person has nothing to do what job you do, how much money you make, or how nice a car you drive. When I’m tempted to judge myself according to a false standard, I take some time to remind myself of God’s love for me and the love of my family and friends. I’ve also found some techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy to be helpful, such as keeping a journal of honest and encouraging thoughts. When you find your head full of discouraging voices, listen to encouraging voices instead.

Find Encouraging Voices

These encouraging voices are going to be different for everyone. Perhaps you have a close friend or two, and getting coffee with them or talking with them on the phone lifts your spirits. It could be your favorite author or musician. Some people are recharged by being outside, letting the “voice” of nature wash over them as they walk, run, or hike.

For me, there are a couple of podcasts I listen to when I need some encouragement. One has been Dan Benjamin’s new podcast QUIT!. I’ve found it very helpful to hear stories from people who’ve gone through difficult work experiences and made something new out of their lives. I also listen to the sermons podcast by my friend Kenny Benge of St. John’s Anglican Church when I need some perspective on life. I usually listen to these podcasts when I’m exercising, which brings me to my final suggestion.

Stay Active and Productive

When we’re fully employed, the needs of our supervisors and the company generally define the work we do. (That can actually be a trap, but that’s a topic for another day.) Human beings, though, were designed to work, and we can become discouraged and unmotivated when we don’t have clearly defined work to do. Also, if you were used to heading into an office or other workplace, your physical activity may decrease significantly when you’re unemployed. This also can have a negative effect on your emotions.

Find ways to stay physically and mentally active during your job search. Look for goals that you can set or small achievements that reward you for your efforts. For example, earlier this month, I began taking web development and design courses through Treehouse. I’m learning some new skills that could help me in a future job, but I also enjoy learning for the sake of learning. Something I like about Treehouse is that you earn badges for each online course you complete. Sure, that’s kind of silly, but it’s an easy and fun way for me to track my progress. I’ve also started a new exercise plan that has milestones connected to each workout, so I can clearly see the progress I’m making.

How do you deal with discouragement? What are some things that have worked for you

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The First 3 Apps I Install on a New Mac

Yesterday, I finished replacing the hard drive in my wife’s Macbook (which I also use at home) and reinstalled Mac OS X Lion. [BTW, if you ever need to do the same, bookmark these two articles on downloading the Lion Installer from the Mac App Store and creating a bootable flash drive.] So, last night, I had a fresh, clean installation of Lion.

I’m 99% sure that I heard Dan Benjamin describe this same set-up on the Back to Work podcast, but I’ll go ahead and say that I was doing it already, which I doubt is true. On a brand new Mac, here are the first programs I install, before I do anything else.

  1. Dropbox: Partly because Dropbox is awesome, partly because Dropbox can store/sync the data for the next two apps, and partly because I can simply save to Dropbox any files I want to transfer from my old computer and — voilà! — they appear on my new computer. (FYI — use this link to sign up for Dropbox and I get some additional storage. Yay!)
  2. 1Password: If you don’t have 1Password, you need to get it. How many passwords do you have to use or remember? What about account logins? Credit card numbers? Software licenses? 1Password stores all of that for me, plus allows me to access it from my browser or my phone, plus generates new passwords for me when I need them. And, because 1Password syncs via Dropbox, all of my passwords show up automatically on my new computer. (App Store link, iPhone app)
  3. TextExpander: If you’re like me, there are things that you type over and over and over again — your name, your phone number, your email signature, the generic response to someone who wants you to do something, and so on. TextExpander lets you create shortcuts so that you don’t have to type all that out. Over the years, the app has also added some great features. I use TextExpander so much that I often find myself trying to use my typing shortcuts while I’m writing longhand. And, just like with 1Password, TextExpander syncs through Dropbox, which means that all of my saved text expansions show up on my new computer. (App Store link, iPhone app)

After that, I have started following Dan Benjamin’s advice and only install applications as I need them. That way, I don’t carry over from my old computer any obsolete programs, apps I used to use for old job functions that I don’t do anymore, or other stuff that’s just been laying around.