I have been away from the keyboard for a bit – took a family vacation to the beach in North Carolina. During this time, I truly unplugged and this was a true gift as too often we are attached to email, smartphones, online presence, etc. and find it difficult, if not impossible, to break away. While at the beach, I did think about how a vacation and the feeling one gets from taking time away can help those in the job hunt.
While I am not recommending taking a vacation from your networking or your job search – momentum is too easily lost when you fall off the grid for 7-10 days – I do recommend rewarding oneself for putting in a solid effort on the job search front. When you set your weekly goals (# of networking outreach efforts, informational networking interviews, applications, follow-ups, etc.) and you hit or surpass that goal, you should reward yourself and your efforts.
My first job after college was as a math teacher – I was bound and determined to help the students at the school become mathematical gods. After a month, I was frustrated at what the students did not know – there had been major gaps in their math curriculum – and negative feelings were creeping in as I realized that I was going to fall short of my (naive) goal. My boss took me aside and gave me the advice that I achievements are usually not made in leaps, but rather smaller, incremental steps – and we need to recognize and celebrate these steps. World records in sports are achieved in tenths of a second, by inches in distance – these are small increments, increments that are celebrated.
The reward I mention above does not need to be something grand, usually something small is more appropriate so as to save a larger celebration for later. The reward could be buying your favorite latte that you have sworn off in order to make ends meet. It could be as easy (and financially prudent) as giving yourself permission not to feel guilty about taking a night/afternoon off from the job search. No matter what you determine as a reward, be sure to celebrate the incremental victories along the way.