I don’t care how tough, strong-willed, or self-reliant you are — if you’ve found yourself caught between jobs at the moment, your journey to new employment is going to include a number of anxiety-filled days that seriously test your faith.  You’re going to have moments when you doubt yourself.  When you feel lost.  When you wonder if you’re doing everything wrong.  When you have to pinch pennies and forgo certain luxuries you used to take for granted.  And when you start to question, perhaps, whether you’ll ever work again after an offer or two goes sideways on you — or you send out a batch of resumes without getting a single response!

These are the reactions that I hear every day, behind closed doors, from talented professionals who have enjoyed a decade (or two, or three…) of career success and then suddenly find themselves out on the street, facing the worst job market we’ve seen in ages.  Let’s face it, the reality of what’s going on out there isn’t news to anyone, and anybody pretending or suggesting otherwise is engaging in gross self-deception.  In fact, if I were to try and convince you that this market was “normal” and every unemployed person was going to land on their feet in record time, I’m 100% positive I’d lose any shred of credibility you ever had for me as a career coach.  Heck, I might even sue myself for malpractice!

So things are tough out there right now and there’s just no getting around it.  The good news, however, is that there actually are proven strategies that people can follow to help cope with their fears and doubts effectively.  I’ve talked about a number of these techniques previously, such as exercise, diet, volunteerism, turning off the news, and the like, but I wanted to dedicate this specific post to one coping strategy that I haven’t talked much about in the past.  This involves the development of a “gratitude journal” where you set aside a few minutes of time, each day, to banish the gloom and reflect (in written form, preferably) on some of the positive things in your life.

Sound corny?  Perhaps.  Especially to those of us stubborn, self-reliant types!  While this technique might not be needed in typical times, however, when you could count on a much steadier flow of good news to drown out the bad, I think it can play a crucial role in the job hunting strategy of professionals today — and that every single one of us stands to benefit from a daily dose of affirmations to help combat the societal malaise out there.  We’re smack in the middle of a long winter, so who knows?  A few minutes of daily exposure to a sun lamp might make all the difference in the world…

Want to try out this technique?  If so, you can either Google the phrase “gratitude journal” and harvest ideas from dozens of sites devoted to the topic, or you can keep things simple, get a blank notebook, and just write down five things you’re grateful for before you go to bed each night.  Not sure you’ve got five things to celebrate?  That’s unlikely, especially if you take a moment to brainstorm around the following categories:

•  Relationships (children, parents, spouse, family, pets, romance, teachers, mentors, new friends, etc.)
•  Wellness (life, health, weight loss, exercise, athletic feats, energy, clarity, simplicity, spiritual truths, etc.)
•  Beauty (art, music, sculpture, books, your garden, the outdoors, cool ideas, architecture, good hair days, etc.)
•  Achievements (reaching goals, learning new skills, honors, awards, recognition, gifts given/received, etc.)
•  Things (wealth, savings, insurance, prized possessions, affordable luxuries, your home/boat/car, etc.)
•  Grab Bag (laughter, good fortune, schadenfreude, fine wine, killer parking spots, random acts of kindness, etc.)

So if you’re having trouble keeping your spirits up, which is a vital part of job hunting success, I’d strongly urge you to give the gratitude journal concept a try.  I can’t promise miracles, but having tried it myself on particularly tough days, I’ve become a believer — and can almost instantly see my perspective change once I reframe things from “what’s wrong” to “what’s right” with my life.  Many of the people in my network who I admire the most, in fact, have confided to me that journaling is a regular part of their daily regimen!

P.S.  On this topic, I also can’t resist a special shout-out to David Brooke at www.thebrooker.com, who is perhaps THE strongest and most persuasive proponent of this technique I’ve ever met…