People get “down” in life. A job search can feel like a sea of rejection. The wrong work fit can feel like a steel trap. There are of course, strategies to push through barriers and gain momentum. That’s for another post. Sometimes, we know what we should do to boost our morale. We know it logically. We’re stuck emotionally. Let’s look at five ways to enrich yourself, no matter what your scenario.
Get in better shape.
A healthy diet and getting into a regular exercise routine – whether it’s walking, yoga, dancing, or whatever – may not have a direct effect on your job search or career, but it will help you indirectly in multiple ways. You’ll look better. You’ll sleep better. You’ll radiate more energy. You’ll project a more positive image. There’s also research that shows physical health helps minimize the psychological impact of stress. Find a buddy or accountability partner if it helps. Find a free app like SparkPeople.com that tracks both your fitness and eating lifestyle.
There’s no better way to take your mind off your problems than to focus on others’ needs and what you can do to help them. Opportunities that make a difference in the lives of people in need are never-ending. Research them online (www.volunteermatch.org) is a good site or by talking to people. Then work an hour or more a week/month into your schedule. As an added bonus, the people you meet throughout your volunteering could become a key part of your professional network.
Surround yourself with people who make you feel good.
Connect or reconnect with folks with whom you are confident and comfortable. They’re easy for you to approach and talk to. They are often what coaching guru, Susan Whitcomb calls the “bone marrow people.” They support you. They often have suggestions or ideas for you. Most will want to help you. They will often remind you of your strengths. They know and accept your flaws. They are the folks who will ask how you are, and how your family is doing.
Mix up the rut.
A routine is a good thing when you’re looking for a job or managing work-life integration, but only if the routine is producing results. If it isn’t getting you anywhere, change it. The changes don’t have to be dramatic. Change your stomping grounds. Perhaps a new media center, place of worship, common-interest group. Start something that’s been on your to-do list forever. Get up an hour earlier every day. Listen to a different television, radio or social media point of view. And consider giving yourself permission to designate at least one day – Sunday, for example – on which you give yourself a mental vacation. On that day, don’t talk or even think about anything related to your job search or job.
Reframing your perspective can get a real boost from others who’ve faced challenges and found their way. Read biographies of successful people. What you’ll notice as a common theme is how often these folks “failed” and how much rejection they experienced before they achieved success. For example, John Grisham literally wallpapered a room with his rejections. Oprah was told she would never make it on television; the Beatles that they should give up on being in music. Listen to self-help CDs and DVDs; watch TED talks online. The internet’s cup runneth over with inspirational sites. Google and have some fun with it. You may also benefit from joining a self-help group. While some argue this is just a group of people with the same issues who bring each other down, I beg to differ. I’ve known many clients who gained great peace by helping others in their groups – and it coming back in true good-Karma form.
2 bonus ideas.
Journal. Buy a journal, a notebook, or use your computer or mobile device and whatever app you like. Get into the habit of putting your thoughts down on paper for 10 to 15 minutes a day. A journal is not a diary; it’s not an hour-by-hour accounting of what you did, where you went, and who you talked to. It’s a mirror for your ideas and feelings, and it can be a catalyst for new ideas or approaches. Don’t worry about whether your writings are interesting or compelling. Write from your heart. Whatever you’re feeling, write it down. You’ll be surprised at how useful or calming this exercise can be.
Become an expert. Consider tapping your expertise as a sideline that does not interfere with your job search or job. Write about your knowledge of the sales cycle, your information technology niche, or magic with numbers. If you’re uncertain of your expertise, start to study something in depth – something that interests you and that you can get passionate about. It could be anything: social media, the Civil War, cooking, dogs, for example. The point is to gain knowledge and insights that go beyond the superficial. Becoming an expert not only bolsters your confidence, but also keeps your mind active. It makes you a more interesting person in general. It gives you a broader perspective. Who knows; the time may come when the person interviewing you happens to be interested in the very thing for which you’ve generously shared insights.
I’d love to hear your ideas for staying positive in life!