5 Ways to Overcome Job-Search Frustration

Rather than letting that frustration fester, put it to good use.

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Curt Rosengren
The job search can be incredibly frustrating. And if you’re not careful, that frustration can start to fester, taking control of your life and getting in the way of the effectiveness of your efforts.

Here are five ways to overcome that frustration:

Get angry

Have you ever felt negative about something and slathered it with a layer of positive thoughts, only to find those negative feelings come roaring up again like a volcano with even more force? If you have, you’ve experienced firsthand the limits of positive thinking.

I’m not a fan of the smiley, happy, positive-thinking-at-all-costs school of thought. Focusing on the positive is a great way to shift how you experience your world, but sometimes you just have to let the volcano blow.

That might look like venting in full force to a trusted friend. It might look like unleashing the fury on a pillow. Or it might look like pouring it all into a hard workout. However you do it, think of it as a pressure release valve. The idea isn’t to stay in that angry space. It’s simply to acknowledge that it’s there and express it so you can move on to more productive ways of coping with your situation.

The less energy you have to spend holding down the anger, the more potential the following ideas have to help minimize the intensity of your frustration.

[See 6 Creative Ways to Showcase Your Resume Online.]

Be grateful

Some of coping with frustration is a matter of perspective. Think of your view of your life as unfolding on a movie screen. When your awareness of the lack of results in your job search swells to fill the entire screen, that becomes your entire focus. No wonder life feels like it completely sucks!

But if you step back for a minute you will probably find that, while you’re definitely in the midst of a crappy situation, you can also find things in your life to feel grateful for.

Practicing gratitude isn’t about scrunching your eyes shut and pretending the negative doesn’t exist. It’s about taking a more comprehensive (and realistic) picture, incorporating the positive along with the frustrating. It is also about choosing to focus on what’s positive and affirming, rather than what leaves you feeling drained and depleted.

[See 5 Job-Search Habits to Break.]

Help others

When the frustration of a job search reaches a boil, it can be helpful to step out of the pot and focus on someone or something else. Finding ways to help other people, whether through formal volunteering or informal acts of service, can help shift your attention and awareness to the world outside your own life.

This has several benefits. First, it gets you off the endless hamster wheel of dwelling on what’s happening in your life. Second, seeing the challenges others are encountering can often provide a sense of perspective. And third, studies have shown that altruistic efforts like helping others can have both mental and physical health benefits.

Get a nature fix

If you’re up to your eyeballs in frustration, try getting out into nature. Nature has a natural grounding effect on people. If you really want to take full advantage of that effect, don’t just take your body out into nature while your brain is still spinning madly on the hamster wheel. Make an effort to really be aware of your surroundings.

Breathe in the fresh air. Notice the plants. Stop and watch a bird in a tree. Close your eyes and listen to the sound of a stream, or birdsong. Connect as fully as you can with your surroundings.

[See How to Make a Career Back-Up Plan.]

Accept the situation

Here’s where you might be tempted to start swearing at me, especially if your frustration level is high. But the cold hard fact is that right here, right now, your reality is what it is. Wishing it were something different won’t change that. So you have a choice. You can either keep banging your head against the wall and feeling the pain of resisting what is, or you can accept it. As Byron Katie says, “When I argue with reality, I lose – but only 100 percent of the time.”

That’s easier said than done. One tool that’s particularly effective is Byron Katie’s process she calls The Work.

Accepting what is doesn’t mean giving up on your efforts. It simply means giving up your resistance so you can stop wasting energy on something that is inherently unproductive. When you do that, you have more energy to put towards moving towards your ultimate goal.

After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book, 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work, and his E-book, The Occupational Adventure Guide, offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.