I don’t know if it’s the seasons changing and the sun setting earlier or my mom and brother going back to school. I’m sure everyone feels like this sometimes. But right now, for me, the job search feels lonely. Maybe you’re in a similar boat, becoming numb and isolated from afternoon after afternoon of just you and your cover letters at the dining room table. To prevent this from turning into a period of low-productivity/high-anxiety, I’ve been developing some habits to quell the loneliness and keep me connected.
1 . Leave the house
Yes, I know this sounds obvious, but there have been countless days where I notice the sunset and realize I haven’t left the property (maybe I walked the dog up the street). You gotta leave the house. I follow a lot of freelancers on Twitter and Snapchat and I greatly admire their commitment to working in coffeeshops or group work spaces. It gets them out of their apartment and even if they don’t talk to anyone but the barista, being around other people who are moving and doing keeps you from feeling stagnant. Even my grandma does this – while she’s retired, she has a routine where she goes to the diner every morning. Sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone, this routine gets her out of the house in the morning and guarantees human contact, even if it’s just the waiter.
This can get a little bit expensive, even if like my grandma all you get is a cup of coffee and a buttered roll, so I’ve been relying on libraries as my near-daily outing. The library in my town just reopened after a renovation; going there gives me a chance to see some people I grew up with, read the front page of the New York Times, and just be in a space other than my room, which is where my computer is set up. I live close enough to walk, which adds another nice touch to the day. Leaving the house is the biggest way for me to combat job-search loneliness.
2. Set a schedule
How much time per day are you going to spend on your job search? 2 hours? 4? 8? This will depend on a variety of factors, from whether you have a part time job to your childcare situation. Setting a schedule has freed me from the mindset of constantly beating myself up thinking “I should be applying for a job right now”. Personally, I stop my job search at 6pm no matter what; this way I can eat dinner with my family and watch my sitcoms guilt free. I also usually don’t do many applications on the weekend so that I can spend time with my parents and brother and pretend I’m working at 9-5.
3. Have an accountability friend
I usually keep my accomplishments private, but I feel that I need a pat on the back for sending my applications out every day, especially when my routine is feeling a little bit treadmill-y. I wish I had a friend who was in a similar position who I could send up dates to, maybe every day, maybe once a week. This provides a level of accountability to make sure you’re moving forward but also gives you a little bit of dopamine when you get to send her that email saying you accomplished your goal.
4. Take a class
Kick boxing, knitting club, English conversation circle, yoga, hiking meet ups, book club. Sign up for it, put it on the calendar, look forward to it, go to it. Knowing when you’re going to see people who you share an interest with is a great way to alleviate loneliness. My dad and I started taking krav maga classes together and having a non-TV routine kept me motivated and moving and seeing people a couple times a week.
5. Call your college friends
I’m back in my hometown, seeing mostly high school friends. I love them dearly, but sometimes I feel myself reverting back to who I was in 2011, losing all of that great character development I did in college. Remind yourself of the talented accomplished person you’ve become. Call your friends who graduated with you and are in the same job situation. Call your friends a year older to get a peak into what might be ahead. Call your friends still in school to appreciate that you don’t have midterms anymore. Ground yourself and these relationship and hey, maybe someone’s dad is hiring.