There are times in your job search, career or in life when you feel stuck, lost, discouraged and don’t know how to get back on track. You’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. You desperately want to change your life, but you don’t know how. One setback after another has shaken your confidence. You feel like a boat that’s been untethered from its moorings and you’re bumping around the ocean, tossed in different directions, feeling helpless to stop it and unsure of how to get back to land.
We generally don’t talk about these feelings, as in our society it’s frowned upon. Our culture emphasizes and prizes success and winning. If you’re not “killing it” by doing something awesome and making lots of money, nobody wants to know you. An Instagramable life of wealth and pleasure is what we desire. Anything short of that is unacceptable.
Communicating with people everyday, I’ve realized that the vast majority of folks become disenfranchised, depressed and despondent. They keep it to themselves, as they’re embarrassed by this. Since it seems that everyone else is doing well, there must be something wrong with them that they’ve missed the party. It’s natural to suffer setbacks, failures and defeat. It is rare for a person to go through life with one consecutive success after another. Most of us fail more than we succeed, but we learn from it, improve and move forward.
If you are feeling adrift, I’d like to share some tips to take back control of your job, career and life.
1. Start with appreciating all of the good things in your life. It’s too easy to dwell on the negativity and losses. Focus on your success—no matter how small or seemingly insignificant—and all the little joys that you have.
2. Help out people in need. Go to a food kitchen for the homeless or volunteer at a hospital for children with cancer. You will feel better about yourself for helping others and it will also put your own problems into perspective.
3. Take a break from your daily routine. Go on a long weekend to get a change of scenery. Your mind needs time to dissociate with the everyday. New vistas, fresh air and different people will allow you to decompress and reboot your thinking.
4. When you get despondent, it is highly likely that you’ll engage in excessive drinking, eating, risk-taking and drugs to numb the pain. These things worsen your situation. Do the opposite. Focus on your physical, mental and emotional health by reading, watching intelligent and uplifting videos, listening to inspiring podcasts, going to the gym, doing yoga or just taking long walks in the park.
5. Plan out what will make you happy and start working toward reaching those goals.
6. Live in the moment, stop your critical monkey brain from telling you how bad you are and appreciate the beauty that life has to offer.
7. Think of the people that make you miserable and extricate yourself from those social settings.
8. Stop watching vacuous shows on television and substitute it with a productive new hobby.
9. Find something that you can succeed in. This will give you confidence to take the next step. Build up small incremental successes that will provide you with positive reinforcement and propel you forward.
10. Be honest with everyone around you about your feelings and ask for advice and guidance. Don’t be too proud and bear all the weight yourself.
11. The next couple of things will be difficult. Promise yourself that you will make every effort to improve your job, career and life. Hold yourself accountable to this promise.
12. We tend to fall into patterns that we become comfortable and complacent with, even failure. Set your sights on what you want to accomplish. Establish a timeline to do it. Then, every day relentlessly pursue your dreams. There will be more days than not when you want to lie in bed with the covers over your head. Push yourself to get up, get out of the house and attack the day. If you have faith in yourself and continue to try, you will ultimately succeed. It may not happen today or tomorrow, but you will get to a place where you are happy and leading a meaningful and productive life.