Today I’m at the beach with my daughter and her family. I could be at home, sending out resumes, following up on job applications or surfing the net for the latest job postings. They are here for the week, and I’ve decided to knock off for a few days and spend some time with the grandkids. I feel a little guilty, I admit. Job searching can be all-consuming, and you feel like if you don’t stay at it you’ll miss the one great job you’ve been searching for all these months.
When the days turn into weeks and months, it’s easy to put aside the things that used to make up your “life” for a lot of reasons. If you have a family depending on your income, the longer you’re out of work the harder it is. Bills pile up, mortgages come due, and everyone is looking to you to get that job and put life back to normal. Getting a cup of your favorite carry-out coffee all of a sudden becomes a luxury or an unnecessary, costly indulgence. Vacations are put on hold. More time is spent over the computer than visiting with friends. Shopping? Forget it! What used to be a pleasant pastime is now stressful, counting up every purchase against a dwindling bank account.
This all puts a lot of stress on everyone. Stressed-out job seekers write desperate cover letters and give lousy interviews. Unemployment doesn’t stop your life. It changes things for awhile, but isn’t the end of life as you knew it.
1. Schedule some down time in the day. Maybe you let the gym membership go, but you can still put on your running shoes and walk around the neighborhood or nearest park. Take an hour or 30 minutes to get away from the computer and breathe some fresh air, look at the trees, and get out among people.
2. Change locations. I have a couple of work spaces in my house. There’s the bay window in the living room with a table, perfect for working on my laptop and observing the comings and goings of the neighbors and passersby. On a nice day, I relocate to the deck, set up on the round table under the umbrella and work outside among the queen palms, lemon trees and two sleepy cats curled up under the table. If I want some intense quiet, I can relocate up to the office on the second floor with no distractions. A change of scenery changes your perspective and mood.
3. Plan for fun. Fun doesn’t always equal spending a lot of money. Instead of going out for dinner, have some friends over for a potluck. The host supplies the main course, while guests fill in with sides, desserts and drinks. A pan of lasagna or chicken casserole can go a long way, and the company of good friends may be just what you need to break from the stress of the job search.
4. Count your blessings. Make a list of what you have instead of what you lost. In the big picture, life takes its twists and turns.
5. Be realistic. The sky is not falling. The most successful business leaders and entrepreneurs failed in business, lost everything and turned things around. That’s why they’re so inspirational today. Unemployment is not an end; it’s the start of a new beginning.
Make a new life while you’re job seeking that has fun, family and friendship. Enjoy the time and don’t waste it with worry or fear. Mostly, don’t let looking for a job take over a part of your life that can be filled with rewards and renewal.
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