Have you left the job you really hated to look for something more fulfilling, or planning to do so in the near future? There are three key things you need to aware of if you want to transition through this period painlessly.
1. Frustration is inevitable.
Let's face it – a job search is not the most exciting way to pass one's time. Even if you completely hated your previous job, after the first few weeks euphoria will pass and you may discover that freedom is not as attractive as you had depicted it to be.
Your real challenge will start after you're done with "enjoying the beautiful weather" and have cooked up with all the friends you planned at least twice. Life may start feeling meaningless, especially if you are not quite sure about what you want, and just know what you do not want to (stay in the job you hate!).
Be prepared that your days will consist of endless follow up emails and calls accompanied by a blunt mixture of fear and frustration. You may stop picking up your friends' calls because you'll dread the question that will be asked – so, how is the job search?
What to do about it:
Create some structure and routine for yourself through the day you can stick to no matter what. The fact that you are not working does not automatically mean you should wonder half-naked around the house.
Looking for a job will become your full-time job, but it should be structured just as any other job. Set yourself some goals for the day, so that you continue feeling that you have accomplished something – ie send out 10umes per day. Make sure you have goals outside your job search as well – you can sign up to volunteer, start learning something new online, reading 10 pages of a book, doing 50 squats etc.
Viktor Frankl, a famous psychologist who spent years in Nazi camps believed that people who survived genocide had one thing in common – their lives had some meaning and they had a goal (like helping others, or thinking about a scientific problem they'll be able to explore once they are out of the camp). Set goals up for yourself.
2. You'll eat yourself alive with self-criticism
The worst thing that can happen is no that you do not get an interview or job offer, but that you start asking yourself questions when things do not work out for some time.
What if this is forever? What if I do not find anything more meaningful and am just a dreamer? What if I am not good for anything else and should have just stayed where I was?
We really excel at creating a hell for ourselves with our own hands. People who are especially good at those are those who have been more successful, as they tend to have many more expectations about what they should do and what the world should look like.
What to do about it
Give yourself time and space. Figuring out what you really want can take some time, and it's a matter of trying, not thinking. If you are really limited with your funds, you may want to have a temporary solution in place not to get into survival mode.
You are not doing yourself any service by demanding results right now and not giving yourself permission to recover (honestly, does it really help that you are torturing yourself again and again and again)?
Be kind to yourself. Your situation is not easy by itself. The frustration you are experiencing can be tremendously reduced if you stop demanding from yourself immediate results and give yourself time.
Please, know that there's nothing wrong with you. Start re-building your confidence – if you've spent time in an unsuitable role or environment, chances are that it is strongly under undermined. Ask your friends to mention your great qualities to you, or write down all the experiences when you felt like a winner and re-read them on a daily basis.
3. You'll start postponing your life until you find a job
You may start running out of money, and so decide that you should not be entertaining yourself until you've found something.
Even when they have enough funds, people in such situations often get into the "scarcity" mentality and stop condemning themselves every single pleasure that costs money (and any other, too), not because they are essentially postponing their lives until until they find a job. This is what makes the job search situation so unbearable for most of them.
What to do about it.
Your life might be frustrating at times, but it can also be fun – and fun does not necessarily cost you money. Please, know that your feeling of happiness and fulfillment does not depend on whether you find a job tomorrow or not, and you can choose to be happy any time of your life.
Do something on a daily basis to help yourself maintain the positive mode. It's especially important because when you are trying to achieve something, you need to make sure that you have enough energy to keep yourself going. Negative thoughts and experiences deplete your energy, and positive ones build it up.
So treat it as a marathon preparation – it can be hard at times and you may need to limit yourself for some things. It's up to you how to remember this period of your life – as something that you were jumping that will pass ASAP, or something that was quite challenging, but also full of new great experiences.