Practice Self Care
As you read this section, know that I am trying to resist the urge to kick my own ass for being a hippie and using a phrase like "Self Care." Just ugh. Puke-inducing tree huggery aside, it's a simple concept, no? You should take care of yourself at all times, but it becomes especially relevant in the middle of a job search, or any other situation where stress and uncertainty abound. At best, you might be less likely to take care of yourself; at worst, you might end up in some kind of self-loathing pattern of ignoring self care, if not doing outright harm to yourself.
Here are a few simple areas where you should pay particular attention, especially if you struggle with them under regular conditions.
Stick to Your Ritual...Or Don't
Many people tell you that you should stick to your exising ritual when you are looking for a job. You should treat looking for a job like your actual job. Like so:
Get up at the same time. Go through your normal routine. Get dressed up like you were going into the office and then "clock in" at your home office, or the couch, or wherever.
As with almost every other thing in all of human history, the generally accepted advice is moronic. Every single time I even THINK about putting on business casual clothes to NOT go to work, just because I used to do that when I HAD a job, I feel like Chollie:
Do yourself a favor, and watch that whole clip from the beginning. Peak Eric Roberts is better than Peak Just About Anyone Else. Fact.
So, back on task. Don't do what you USED TO DO when you had a job...unless that's what you LIKE to do. If you like to put on a full suit to sit on the couch, then do it. If you don't like to put on a suit, and would bask in the opportunity to clock in to your job of finding a job wearing a smoking jacket and nothing else, nuts alfresco, then do that.
This is what self-care is all about. Here are a few headings that I feel warrant their own section in this post.
Do what you want to do, but do not risk your health. Wash your ass once in a while.
As mentioned above, if you'd like to do a little less hygiene to take advantage of the fact that you don't necessarily have anywhere to be, then do it. But, know this...if you at least keep up with some basic hygiene, you will be able to react quickly if someone wants an in-person meeting with you.
As with just about everything else, there is a happy medium...and it is different for every person. As for myself, I like to have it both ways. I usually feel slightly better clean than dirty, all other things being equal...I also, without question, like to bask in my own filth from time to time. Even without a job/boss, blowing off every bit of hygiene your loved ones will allow feels like "sticking it to the man." I know I am not the only one that enjoys this, immensely. I also know it's a sophomoric exercise. IDGAF.
Speaking of exercise, go ahead and do some while you are not working.
If you are a fitness nut, and that is an integral part of you, by all means, keep doing you. If you are a couch potato and want to continue to be one, more power to you. Don't go changing everything about your life all at once.
However, I would urge you to consider this approach, if you are looking for a job, or going through any other high-stress change in your life.
Blow. Things. Up.
Work out more, or less, or differently...just to change things up. I think you will be surprised by how energized it will make you feel to upset the apple cart a bit.
Do Less "Work" Work
Looking for a job full-time does not take 8 hours a day. Depending how efficient you are and how hot your career area is in the job market right now, it's probably anywhere from 2-5 hours.
Do not make "busy work" for yourself by reading more job spam emails and applying to more and more jobs, even though you know they are not a good fit.
Enjoy having a shortened "work" day. Soon enough, your dance card will be full again. Use the extra time to...
Do More Work on Yourself
I will reiterate what I just said - make sure to take some time to just chill...especially if that is not something you normally do. Blow. Things. Up.
Another great use of the fact that you do not have a full work day while you are looking for a job is to spend some time working on yourself. This can be related to your career or not. Of course, one of the items that would normally be in this section would be exercise. Since we covered it above, I will leave it alone here. Suffice it to say that exercise is a good way to work on yourself.
Learn something new. Pick something you always wanted to know how to do, and Google that crap. Take advantage of the kind of training that is available to you on the great big internet for free. If you doubt this, ask someone old enough to remember what it was like in the pre-internet days. We literally had to not know stuff or go to the library. It was this building that had lots of books and this thing called microfiche. Everyone over the age of 45 is involuntarily twitching in at least one eye right now. Do not click that link unless you are young enough to handle it. Don't do it! It is microfiche AND old-timey music. You've been warned!
Anyway, here are some great examples of new skills that don't take much time to learn:
Are you ever envious when you see someone with knife skills chop an onion on the cooking shows?
What about wearing a tie to all your interviews that you are going to score, because you are awesome? Are you still stuck with the same B.S. Half Windsor knot you learned in middle school?
Just follow the simple plan here in 2019. Watch it on YouTube, practice until you are proficient (a.k.a. Fake It Til You Make It) and impress your friends and loved ones with your new awesomeness.
Added benefit: you are now a better human. You know some new stuff. Congrats.
If certifications are a thing in your career field, now is an excellent time to look at expanding yours. It is a great use of the extra time you have when you are job hunting. Do I even need to highlight that, once you get them, you can put them on your resume, which might actually help you with the whole job hunting thing?
I know that some certifications are expensive, and it would seem counterintuitive to pay for them yourself, especially when you have no money coming in. Plus, any decent company will pay for your certs once you get hired, so you can always do it then. These are all good points. They are also all good excuses to keep you from investing in your career. Besides, some companies have some fine print, either actually written or understood, that will prevent you from getting certified on their dime soon after taking a job, or you might owe them a time commitment after they send you for training and certification.
A slight hack is to take advantage of the free training that is available for most certifications but not pay the money to take the test to actually get the certification itself. At some level, it kind of defeats the purpose, but all the knowledge you gain will, at a minimum, allow you to perform much better in an interview and on the job.
Another point - do not think that you should only seek out training and/or get certified in something that will help you find a job or help with your career.
Remember, we are blowing things up here. Try something new. Set yourself some...
At first blush, this seems like it would be similar to the "New Skills" section above. Setting, and achieving, Stretch Goals is so much more, at least in my opinion. Because, for me, Stretch Goals assume a level of discomfort.
The example I always use is public speaking. Even for experienced public speakers, there is a level of discomfort being up in front of the group, with all eyes on you. Full disclosure: I am a serial public speaker. I love it. And it scares the living bajeesus out of me. Every time. I think, secretly, that is WHY I love it. It's what scratches my adrenaline junkie itch, now that I have old, fragile bones and multiple vertebrae held together with plates and screws.
Anyway, public speaking is a stretch goal for lots of people. Even if you are not one of those people, being out of work is an excellent opportunity to reach out to folks in your professional network and see if they would like you to come speak to them and their coworkers (or user group, or professional association, or any other gathering of any size) about your area of expertise. Think about something like a Lunch and Learn.
You do not even need to already be an expert in the subject matter. It is ridiculously easy to find something that is hot in your industry at any given point in time. It is also ridculously easy to find tons of information on that subject, do the research, come up with a 30-60 minute presentation on it and volunteer to share your knowledge to a group. Seriously, even if you have no experience in the area when you start researching it, you can become proficient enough to present on it in short order.
I will now let you in on a little secret about the consulting business. Don't tell anybody.
You don't need to be a bona fide expert on the subject matter, you just need to be closer to expert than the people paying you for your time. You can use this approach to set a Stretch Goal of learning something new and creating a presentation/talk about it. Even if you never get the chance to give the talk to anyone, you have learned something new.
But if you DO get to give the presentation to others, not only have YOU learned something new, you have also helped some other folks gain some knowledge as well, or maybe sown a seed that will lead someone to find their new passion. Remember the section earlier in the series about being willing to GIVE help as well as receive it?
Hell, maybe this section is very similar to the "New Skills" section after all. In my own personal "Blow Things Up" moment, I am going to leave this section in here, even if it is extraneous and breaks up the flow. Typically, I would stress out about this and worry that my writing was not as good as it could be...and literally lose sleep over it. Not today. I am blowing things up myself...following my own advice and whatnot. Go ahead and enjoy my slightly disjointed blog post. Entropy is awesome!
You Do You
As the final section of this part - does anyone even remember that we are talking about self care - my parting thought on Self Care is that you should use this opportunity to either affirm or recognize the fact that you, and YOU ALONE, have agency over your own happiness. There are lots of external pressures, actors and actions, but YOUR happiness is something that happens, or fails to happen, between YOUR ears. No one can change how you feel. Only you can do that.
Do things that make you happy. Eliminate things that do not.
Stay tuned for Part 6...