Unemployed Full-Time Work

Some of my longest, most depressing, and most anxiety-filled months were those in which both myself and my husband were unemployed, with rent and bills piling up every month on my credit card. Having that kind of stress and fear hanging over our heads was debilitating. To the degree that occasionally, out of hopelessness, we stopped applying to as many jobs as we could and just succumbed to the inertia that grabbed at us. Not getting the results for which we’d hoped discouraged us from putting more effort into trying.

I found that I needed a perspective-shift.

My definition of success and results needed to be less about whether someone said yes to me (ie contacting me after applying, offering me an interview, or offering me a job), which depended on somebody else’s choices, and more about whether I’d done my due diligence to apply to a set number of jobs per day, which depended on my own choices. As long as I was unemployed (and not in school), applying for a job was my full-time job.

To look for work full-time, I needed full-time goals and boundaries. First, I tried not to sleep in tooo late (the jobless, including myself, are very tempted to sleep til noon because they have no schedule imposed on them). Although I knew that I was more productive early in the day, it required discipline to wake up before 9am. I resolved that I would work on job applications during normal working hours as much as I could.

Second, I gave myself a challenging yet doable goal. For me that was to apply to 3 jobs per day Monday through Friday (resting on the weekends). Anything less would give too much time for self-pity, allow me to give in to my own lethargy, and cause me to spiral into a derailing depression. Anything more than 3 would overwhelm and discourage me from doing any at all, make me feel like a failure, and thus again spiral into depression.

I didn’t always make that goal of three a day M-F, but I did more often than not. And I was much less depressed in the process. Eventually I got pretty good at writing cover letters and filling out online applications. Eventually somebody hired me, I started earning money for those monthly bills, and I started slowly chipping away at the credit card debt.

If you’re in a similar boat I was, maybe these ideas will help you, too. Make looking for work your full-time job, and remember that you are not responsible for who says yes or no, but for setting and reaching your application goals. Good luck in your work to find work!