You find yourself unemployed. Maybe you were laid off, maybe you quit out of desperation, maybe you casually sauntered out of the office and never looked back.
Regardless, here you are. Butt in a chair, staring at a screen. Alternating between endlessly scrolling through pages of job ads, firing off resumes, and refreshing your email to see if the last five companies you applied to have replied.
I’ve been there, caught in the mind-numbing loop. I know the sudden inability to articulate your skills, and the creeping doubt that conveniently shows up just as your head hits the pillow. I’ve been torn between the familiar and the possibilities, overwhelmed by indecision.
I’ve seen the dark side, my friend.
And I’m here to tell you, the worst thing to do when looking for a job, absolute worst, is to spend all your time looking for a job.
Here are three things to try instead.
Go on an adventure
Take a look at a map. Find somewhere you haven’t been. Aim for somewhere an hour and a half away (any shorter it’s too easy to say it’s not worth it, any longer it’s too inconvenient to go). Drive there. Take in the sights, absorb the ambiance. Meet some people. Love beer? Sample a pint at a craft brewery. Be open for anything.
Too tame for you? Go on a whitewater rafting trip. Volunteer on a trail-clearing backpacking trip with the nearest parks agency. Set off on a two week road trip and see the states.
Whatever adventure means to you, do that. Break your routine and make time for play. You’ll come back with a refreshed mindset, and a story to share during your next interview.
Take a class, learn a lesson, join a meetup
On a lark, I signed up for a plant identification class, which was as far away from my then-profession as you could get.
The morning of the class dawned drizzly and cold, and we traipsed through mud for hours. I was so fascinated by what we were learning, I hardly noticed. I didn’t decide to dedicate my life to botany, but to this day I still point out milk thistle and miner’s lettuce to whoever will listen.
If you know you want to change career paths, but aren’t quite sure what path is for you, use this opportunity to explore. Pick a hobby that’s always been on your to do list, or something random that catches your eye. Use an online learning platform like Skillshare to learn more about a career of interest. Listen to other people talk about their passions and let it inspire you. Challenge yourself and follow your curiosity.
(P.S. This class was fun and completely helped me overhaul my cover letter.)
Reconnect with yourself
Each month, around the time I paid bills, the intensity of my job search jumped a few notches. Visually seeing my money dwindling and having to acknowledge that another month had passed was hard. The devilish little voices telling me to apply for anything remotely similar to what I had been doing got louder and louder, even though I knew I was ready for something different.
As corny as it may be, every ending is the opportunity for a new beginning. Take some time to reconnect with your values, passions and goals. Define what success means to you, and then pursue it even if it’s the unknown.
Pick a day five years from now and write down in vivid detail what you’re doing and what your life is like. If it’s continuing your current line of profession, that’s great! Move forward with confidence. But if it’s not, this is your opportunity to take control and reset.
Need some inspiration? Check out Live Your Legend, or Good Life Project, or Level Up Your Life.
Too often, fear drives the job search. Fear of the unknown, fear of not having enough or being good enough, fear of not being able to provide. Be bold! Step away from the computer. Take time to play, to learn, to remind yourself what success means to you. And, when you’re ready and refreshed, opportunities will be waiting.