The article reached by clicking on the title is about depression affecting your job search. Jason Alba, the author, founded JibberJobber.com 3 years ago – it seems that creating a company was the outcome of his job search. A follow-up article is found here: jibberjobber.com/blog.
While you may not create your own company as a result of looking for work, there is a great principle at work in Jason’s story: he used his job search experience as fodder for getting his “right fit” work. From my outside perspective (I haven’t interviewed Jason), it appears that he got so good at organizing all the elements of his job search that he realized his tools could also help others. He was open to opportunity based on looking at what he did really well, what he spent his time doing, and what gave him satisfaction and yes, even joy.
I talked to someone today who was relating how she didn’t write her cover letters. Instead she researched and then secured sea bass on a Sunday for a dinner with close friends.
I was struck by how differently we viewed that project, for project it was. To her, it said “AVOIDANCE!” She didn’t do what she was “supposed to do” and instead did what she wanted to do. She was doing an excellent job of beating herself up.
To me, it said “I LOVE THIS!” She learned a lot about a topic related to a field in which she wants to work – food, nutrition, obesity, public health – and she delivered a necessary resource on time to the cook.
This experience tells me a few things, information that she can use:
1. The jobs she thought about applying for are just not compelling enough – yet. Her desire to work is not strong enough yet to overcome her fear of the unknown. The posted jobs may contain things she doesn’t like – or thinks she doesn’t like. Or she fears that she doesn’t have the skills and doesn’t want to risk being rejected.
2. She needs more experiences doing things for other people, feeling how great it is to deliver on a promise. Then she can extend that to feeling how great it is to deliver on a promise to herself. She’s still in the habit of disappointing herself, even as she expects someone else to swoop in and “rescue” her by dropping a job in her lap. In some ways, the habit is one of thinking that she disappoints herself, of setting herself up to let herself down, rather than actually doing so. If instead she were to look at what she IS doing, instead of what she is NOT doing, she might be surprised at how much she’s doing that is bringing her closer to her goal of getting satisfying paid work.
3. Her fear of applying for jobs is greater than her desire to work – for now. There’s a real reluctance to be rejected, as well as some distrust of her ability to pick a good work situation. She’s reentering the paid workforce after several years and some deep disappointments at previous employers…there’s a lot of stuff to clear out of her path and it is taking time to wend our way through the piles, spot the valuable nuggets and set aside the dross of negative thinking, low self-esteem, fear of making the wrong choice, the “imposter syndrome” that besets so many (“they’ll find out I’m really no good…”).
4. She is naturally drawn to certain kinds of activities, activities that can easily be done for pay: project management, resource development, research, networking, sourcing, vendor relations, food service. When you do something because you love it, it doesn’t feel like work. So I think: look at those things you do for fun, as a hobby, and identify the skills, abilities, talents and activities involved.
The key message is that instead of engaging in self-flagellation, take a good look at what you did instead of what you thought you “should” do. There are good reasons for our choices. Abandon the judgment long enough to observe yourself. My experience is that when I stopped choosing to feel terrible about myself, I emerged from my depression. And it is a choice that needs to be made consciously at first until it becomes a habit.
I don’t claim to know about everyone’s situation, I only know what has worked for me and some of the people around me. Today, I will go to any lengths to feel good about myself and my choices – including doing the things I wish someone else would do for me but they can’t. Only I can do them, and while I may not always like being a grown-up, it’s a relief to know that I can feel better by taking an action rather than sitting around thinking about all that I should be doing.
The other day I came up with a new meaning for the acronym FEAR: Faithless Ego Anticipates Ruin. Taking action in the now, the present, is the best antidote for fear that I’ve found.
I guess I didn’t change until I was so sick and tired of feeling afraid, of letting myself down, of allowing the outside world to control my inner world – that I was willing to see what it felt like to just do the next thing in front of me without projecting into the future or assigning it any meaning beyond its intrinsic meaning.
I have no idea what will happen in the next hour, never mind next week. All I can do is my best with what’s in front of me. That freed me from a lot of depression in job search and other aspects of life.