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Stop Trying To Motivate Yourself To Job Hunt. Do This Instead.

Dec 30, 2021

Job hunting is grueling for pretty much everyone. It can be discouraging and disheartening. You will often find yourself without the motivation to do the work necessary.

How do I get my motivation back?

Don’t try.

There are two main reasons you aren’t feeling motivated to look for a job.

  1. You are feeling emotionally drained.

  2. You have put tasks on your list that are actually goals, and your brain doesn’t know the first step.

What can I do about it?

The answer for both is the same. Two simple steps.

Step 1: Break it down. Way down.

Set aside 20 minutes to sit down with your job hunt to-do list. You won’t take any action on the items, you will just do some rewriting. (Yes 20 is probably enough. You will be really shocked how much you can get done in small chunks of time if you know exactly what you are going to do in that time.)

Go through each item and think about what the true first step would be. For example, let’s say your original task was “Conduct networking meetings with three people.”

You can break it down this way:

  1. Go through my linkedin and write down 10 people I would like to meet with

  2. Reach out to 5 people and ask them to meet with me

  3. Check email daily to set up appointments

  4. If I don’t have three dates set by Friday, contact 3 more people from original list

The act of sitting down and breaking down your list is not emotionally daunting because you aren’t going to do any of the action items.

Step 2: Set a schedule of very small chunks of time

Commit to tackling your job hunt list 10 minutes each day. 10 minutes everyday is way better than 70 minutes once a week, especially if networking is part of your plan. (Hint: Networking is essential to job hunting.)

Now that you have broken down your list, when you have 10 minutes tomorrow, you can focus exclusively on step 1. Focus on starting it- it’s ok if you don’t finish. And don’t even think about step 2 until you have completed step 1. By approaching it this way, if you have that 10 minutes free before the kids come home, you can begin tackling the first step.  Since your brain doesn’t have to do the mental labor of trying to figure out what the first step is, you will find that you get started quickly and that you end up using these small chunks of time effectively.

What if my overarching task isn’t that simple?

Let’s say your overarching task is to find 5 jobs to apply to, and you aren’t really sure where to start. This often can be a mental blocker because you aren’t really sure what the first step is. There are two ways to handle it.

Option 1

Try to think of 1 or 2 places you might look for a job and write them on the list even if you don’t know if they are good sources. This way when you go to look on those, if they turn out not to be good sources, you will probably already be looking and will most likely keep going.

Option 2

Block out a slightly longer time period for this, like 20 minutes. Tell yourself that even if you aren’t sure where to start, you will spend 20 minutes without distractions to work on it, without setting a goal to finish or produce anything. By setting aside specific time to research this, it’s no longer results based. This takes away the excuse to put it off because you aren’t committing to finding anything, you are just committed to looking. It might sound counterintuitive, but when you sit down with the goal of just looking, and you actually spend the 20 minutes, you will probably find what you are looking for.