I lead a support group for people who are unemployed. I received an e-mail from a member of my the group last week. It said, in essence, “I give up. I don’t know what to do anymore to find a job. Nothing is working.”
I understand the paralysis and frustration he’s feeling. Life feels out of control. At our meetings we discuss strategy on how to gain control of an uncontrollable situation, and different ways of coping.
One person focuses on making sure she does at least one thing, takes one step forward, each day. Invariably one step leads to another and she finds that she’s accomplished a lot towards her goal each day. But she finds that if she looks at the situation in its entirety she will feel overwhelmed and depressed. So she focuses on what’s the one next thing she needs to do. And then she does it.
Another member creates separation. He spends his mornings on the computer. He spends his afternoons on the phone or going to meet people. People with job leads, people in his network, he gets out there. He knows he needs human contact to keep his spirits up. In the evening he steps away from his job search and focuses on his family. Just as when he had a job to go to every day, the evening is family time. This way he can approach the next day refreshed, reinvigorated, and reminded of why he must keep looking.
Writing can be lonely, frustrating, and at times seemingly pointless. I know, I’ve been there.
“I don’t know what to say.”
“I’ll never finish this.”
“I’ll never get this published.”
And the worst of all, “Maybe it’s not good.” I’ve encountered all these demons.
But then I remind myself what I heard in a seminar on writing delivered by Sam Horn. If there is one person who might benefit from what you have to say then you have a responsibility to write. You owe it to that one person. And if there is one person, there are more. Possibly many more. You owe it to them to keep writing. Do one thing. Write one page, one paragraph, hell, one sentence. Do something, but don’t give up.
The person who sent me the e-mail had skipped that week’s meeting. I know that sometimes going to a meeting, or seemingly doing anything, seems pointless. But sometimes being with people, especially people who are going through the same things you are, is a tonic in itself. Get in touch with people in your support network if you feel like giving up.
If you’re a writer, find a writing buddy. I’ve done that. Contact another writer and talk with someone who understands what you’re going through. Schedule times to talk so you have something to look forward to. Plus if you know you’re going to speak with someone about what you‘re writing, you’re more likely to have written so you have something to talk about! Just knowing that you have that appointment will help you to focus. Take these steps before you sit down to write or meet with a publisher or an editor because you will be in a better frame of mind to present yourself or whatever it is you’re setting out to accomplish.
Success comes in many forms. Continuing to write when you feel you can’t is a success. Making a call to someone when you don’t feel like talking is a success. Pouring yourself onto the page is a success.
Giving up is not an option. You are only one “Yes” from your next success.
Ron Katz is the president of Penguin HR Consulting (www.penguinhr.com) and the author of “Someone’s Gonna Get Hired…It Might As Well Be You!” a book that helps people deal with the stress of losing, finding, or keeping a job. He writes, speaks, and blogs about job search and the inanities of working in today’s workplace.