Career transitions come in many forms, one of the most major ones being a new job search. In addition to the obvious steps of networking and sending our applications (which I will cover in separate blog posts), it is important to consider how to support ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally during a job search. In coaching clients who are in the midst of a job search, I have observed that they have the best chances of success, and weather the transition the most smoothly, when they follow these 5 healthy habits:
1. Get ample sleep.
Prime your mind and body by giving yourself the rest you need. We are at our most productive after a good night’s sleep. Most people need 7-9 hours. Notice how much sleep you need to feel your most alert. If you feel you can’t spare the extra time in bed, consider that an extra hour of zzz’s can result in several hours of added productivity, not to mention a more positive outlook.
Some people who are worried about a job search may find they suffer from insomnia and have a difficult time winding down at night. If this describes you, go the extra mile to set up a cozy sleeping space, limit screen time at night, engage in a soothing pre-bed ritual such as journaling or listening to music.
2. Exercise regularly.
Exercise is wonderful for so many reasons. It leads to better sleep. It puts us in a good mood. It activates endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. It makes us calmer, less reactive, and better company for others to be around.
Have a hard time committing to exercising on a regular basis? Consider the huge rewards it brings. Sometimes it’s simply our resistance to a new habit that stands in our way. Try scheduling exercise in your calendar and set yourself up for success: pack your gym bag, set an alarm. The more times in a row that we repeat a new habit, the more engrained it becomes in our minds and the more naturally it comes.
3. Do something just for fun.
Why? Career transitions inevitably entail a lot of stress (both “good” and “bad” stress). Doing something you enjoy, that’s just for yourself, can alleviate much of that stress. It also has a profound impact on reframing the career transition as one part of your life, rather than an all-consuming part. Whether it’s hiking, taking a painting class, or playing in the backyard with your kids, everyone needs time to be playful, silly, or creative.
4. Surround yourself with a support network.
This one is a double whammy.
First, you will feel more supported emotionally when you take advantage of the support that’s available to you. You will have more optimism and resilience, and less risk of anxiety or depression. You will experience more connection and less isolation. Others matter. Positive psychology shows that meaning is a key hallmark of happiness–connection to other people and to something larger than ourselves.
Secondly, you will be more likely to hear of useful resources or job leads that could ramp up your search.
This last one is important. . .
5. Be gentle with yourself.
Whether your search is a long or a short one, remember that it is temporary. While you are in the midst of it, treat yourself with as much care and compassion as you would a good friend. Before long, you’ll be at your new dream job, and your search will be a fleeting memory. While you’re in the thick of it, do everything you can to make the process easier on yourself.