Staying motivated is an essential key to success in anything, and a job search is no exception. Below are five tips for tapping into and sustaining your motivation to persevere.
Get Organized and Show Up
Use a list and a manageable system to accomplish small goals. Tracking your efforts on paper, or on your computer or phone, can help you to have a sense of accomplishment.
You may have heard that people in sales sometimes set themselves goals to hear the word “no” a hundred times, because every “no” brings you that much closer, statistically, to a “yes”. Rather than feel disappointed that you don’t have an offer yet, recognize that it is an achievement just to show up every day. Even doing a single job-search related task in a day is better than doing none at all.
Make Commitments Out Loud
An accountability partner can be incredibly helpful in keeping you honest with yourself about how much effort you are putting into your job search and whether you are adapting your approach in response to feedback, altered circumstances, or new information. Finding an accountability partner is one great reason to connect with a job search support group and/or a professional or social organization. A mentor may also help you hold yourself accountable by asking you follow-up questions on their advice.
Set Achievable Short-Term Goals With Rewards Attached
Establish a rewards system. Think of what small indulgences could motivate you: Going out for a movie with family or friends? A sweet treat, like chocolate or ice cream? A day at a local swimming pool or park? Relate these rewards to quantifiable goals that reflect your time and effort, such as sending out two new cover letters and résumés and making three follow-up phone calls. Yes, of course, you will celebrate when you get that job offer; but in the meantime, find ways to reward yourself for your diligence.
Reflect On and Grow Through Disappointments
When you experience disappointment in your job search, you can do two important things to not allow it to rob you of your motivation:
1.) Reflect on whether there is anything different you could have done to improve your chances of getting that job, and determine how you will use that information going forward; and,
2.) Don’t quit. Keep showing up and putting in the effort. If you need to give yourself a little time and space to grieve, then do that; but also set yourself a small challenge to achieve within the next couple of days -- even if it’s only to get back to your desk and put in ten minutes on active job search tasks.
We all need dreams to sustain us through the mundane tasks of whatever job we do. When filling out applications, sending out résumés, and making phone calls wear you down, take some time to step back and think about why you are doing this. Chances are, you have overcome many obstacles to reach the place where you are now. You have the strength, the skills, and the resilience to aim high.
What would you do from here if you could do anything? Go back to school? Change careers? Write a book? Run a marathon? Whether the dream that you feel most excited about is related to your next job or not, using some of your down time to research the possibilities and make some small steps toward it can re-energize and uplift you, and your job search will benefit. (Just do remember to get back to your job search to-do list and make at least some small progress nearly every day.)
Persevering in the face of adversity is a sign of emotional maturity and deep inner strength. You can use your job search time to cultivate your ability to overcome obstacles, which is, itself, a highly marketable skill. Reflect on how much you have accomplished already, on what has worked best, and on what you may still want to try. You can and will get through this! Just remember: You have to play to win!