When I finished school and was still in the midst of a job search 6 months or so later, I went back to my college to see a career counselor to talk about what I might do better.
One piece of advice stood out to me, even thought it was probably the least tangible thing we talked about. I asked a question about the endurance you need to keep up during a long search, and the advice the counselor gave me seemed to be obvious and unhelpful at the same time.
Don’t Get Desperate
She said this and I thought to myself, “well, yeah, but how does that help me now when I’m already starting to feel a little desperate.”
As it turns out, I didn’t have to wait as long as I thought to be employed, but that advice always stuck with me, and as I have thought about it I think it’s one of the best things we talked about that day (and, clearly, one of the most memorable as that meeting took place about 7 years ago.)
In order to not get desperate, you have to focus on everything you have, and not on everything you don’t have. This is a good exercise at the best of times, but in difficult times it’s essential.
If you feel like you have something, even if it’s only partially what you want/need or if it’s just something you can be grateful for, you’ve got some sort of foundation to stand on. You can say to yourself, “I might not have X,Y,Z but I’ve got this, and that’s not bad.”
In order to not get desperate, you have to be at your most flexible. If all you have is Plan A, you might start feeling panicky when Plan A starts to look like it won’t work out. But if you have Plan B, C, and D suddenly you’re not as attached to Plan A, and you’re not as anxious.
In order to not get desperate, you have to find things that make you feel good – peaceful, optimistic and maybe even joyful. Worry and anxiety don’t make your desperation go away, it makes it worse. You have to keep bringing yourself back to things that make you feel like you’re headed in the right direction, even if the destination is a ways off.