Why You Should NOT Make "Looking for a Job" a Full-Time Job

Why You Should NOT Make "Looking for a Job" a Full-Time Job
by (c) 2002 Nancy R. Smith

The best traditional wisdom of those who advise you when you lose a job is "Looking for a job is a full-time job." That advice is well- meaning because it attempts to counter laziness and depression and keep you on your toes. No one should plop down on the couch with a drink or a box of chocolates and watch sports or the soaps! But that advice is misguided!

Yes, the traditional advice to make looking for a job your full-time job is wrong! I am not talking about fulfilling your life’s purpose. If you are looking for ways to fulfill your calling, your passion itself will drive you to work on it constantly. If that is your situation, you need read no further as this article is not designed for you!

But if you are looking for a job to support yourself, your family, and perhaps even to support your calling itself, then making a full-time job of that job search is both impossible and inadvisable, because it makes you self-absorbed and self-centered. Let me explain:

The traditional advice creates a wrong focus.

    * Making "looking for a job" your full-time job puts the focus on you and your situation of unemployment. It accentuates a scarcity mentality. It focuses on competition in a way that inevitably tempts you to define your own personal worth by whether you are acceptable or unacceptable and by whether you are better, or not as good as, the competition.

    * Making "looking for a job" your full-time job distracts you from evaluating your life decisions. What is your career? What is your calling? What is the reason for your being in this world? If you do not have clear and passionate answers to these questions, then you need to spend a good portion of each day pursuing those answers. Maybe you can spend 50% of your time job-hunting so that you can put food on the table, but spend the other 50% doing this inner work that needs to be done.

    * Making "looking for a job" your full-time job causes you to view everyone you know or casually meet as someone who might be able to “do something for you.” You can easily begin to see others as utilitarian objects rather than as human beings in relationship with you.

The traditional job-hunting advice is solid in terms of the recommended tasks. But when you have made every call and followed every lead that you have, don’t spend the rest of the day – as I used to do – wondering, "HOW can I possibly look for a job full time?" Don't do "make-work" just because you haven’t put in enough hours yet!

What should you do NEXT?

    1. Get out of the house. Do something drastically different. Go the library. Get some creative materials like watercolors and paper or clay – even a cheap version designed for children – and experiment with them. Take a walk and feed the ducks. Go to the zoo. Play on a kids' playground – either by yourself or with a child.

    Activities like these clear your brain and help you to see things differently. They will also energize you for tomorrow’s job-hunting tasks.

    2. Do something for someone else. Do something you may have thought about doing but "never had the time." Not every good deed requires a long- term commitment that you would have to give up when you get a jog. Go serve in a soup kitchen. Sign up to be a substitute teacher. Visit an elderly, house-bound person – surely you know at least one! Spend an afternoon babysitting for a harried mom.

    Activities like these take your focus off of yourself and create relationships – even temporary ones – that nurture your inner being.

    3. Evaluate your job, your career, your life. Once when I was unemployed, I spent about two hours a day for two weeks doing this kind of inner work. It was nourishing, encouraging, life-enhancing. There are many excellent resources available to help you do this – two of my favorites are:

    Friend of the Soul: A Benedictine Spirituality of Work by Norvene Vest Creating the Work You love: Courage, Commitment and Career by Rick Jarow Spend 100% of your time actually LIVING your life. Look for a job as much of the time as is necessary and potentially productive. But find your identity within, not in the job market.

Focus on other people as human beings, not for what they can do for you. Have fun! Help others. And don’t forget to live!

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Nancy R. Smith is a writer and educator whose mission includes linking spirituality and work. Visit www.workplacespirituality.info the place to explore ways to integrate your spirituality with your work.
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