Looking for a job is a full-time job (Part 2: Staying Motivated)
I'm always turning over a new leaf. Usually this happens when I get on the scale and discover that I weigh slightly less than a wild elephant. I go grocery shopping and buy a lot of expensive food that says "natural" and "really, really good for you" on the label. Then I go to the gym and work out for 2 hours. Then I tell everyone I know that "I really mean it this time. I'm going to look gooood." Then one of them says, "Well, OK but a bunch of us are going to that place with the really fantastic margaritas." And I decide I can reward myself because I was so good today. Then I never go back to that new leaf again. For those of you keeping count at home, that's a track record of less than 24 hours.
When it comes to job hunting, I need a really big bag of tricks to keep me motivated. Here's what's keeping me on the hunt:
I'm addicted to caffeine - so addicted in fact that if I take a shower before I have a cup of coffee, I've been known to literally bang into the wall of the shower. I've been working out of locations that can provide me with endless supplies of coffee. Every time I get something done on my job hunting list, I allow myself to get more coffee. The more I get done, the more I feel like I could crush a bus with my bare hands. I wouldn't recommend this method if your addiction is alcohol, opiates or porn, but it could definitely work for chocolate, shopping, gaming, headline scanning, Facebook, Twitter and email checking.
2. Low-hanging fruit
As I mentioned in Part 1, I've created a little schedule for myself to keep me going. As part of that schedule, I've organized my job hunting days according to rewardability (a la Operant Conditioning). Mondays, I apply to jobs and follow-up on leads that have a high probability of getting me a call-back. This might mean sending out a freelance piece to someone I've pitched and has accepted me before. Or applying to a job that I'm overqualified for. Or calling a friend of a friend who might know someone hiring in my industry. Armed with that confidence, I go into Tuesday with bravado - trying for jobs and contacts I have slightly more of a chance of obtaining than say, Obama's job. By Wednesday, I'll be convinced I'm a failure and call my mom so that she can tell me how much talent she and my kindergarten teacher believe I have, or I'll commiserate with other job seekers online. The point is - you can't spend everyday in rejection misery. Part of job seeking is setting yourself up for success, even if that just means telling yourself you will accomplish three things today and doing them.
3. Side projects
I have a blog. Maybe you've heard about it? It's called the The Job Stalker. Tell all your friends. Side projects might not pay the bills, but they help us get up in the morning (that and the alarm clock). Maybe you're working on a quilt. Or maybe you make gorgeous jewelry like my friend Galina. Or you volunteer for Heifer International. This stuff is important. Side projects keep us sane. They keep us human. Just make sure your side projects don't distract you from your real goal: to get a job that pays. I set aside about an hour a day for side projects. By the way, while you're distracted, listen to The Flying Lizards playing Money (That's What I Want).
More in Part 3. Until then, avoid night terrors and try not to gnaw your hands off.