How to Stay Motivated on the Job Hunt with Bipolar
Let’s be honest: job hunting is demoralizing even if you’re neurotypical. There are so many uncertainties that can wear you down when you’re seeking a new position — and when you live with bipolar disorder, those stressors can lead to changes in mood that can result in a full-blown episode of depression or mania. It may be easier said than done, but a critical key to preventing mood episodes while you’re on the prowl for a new job is by learning ways to keep yourself motivated.
It’s Okay to Feel Frustrated on the Job Hunt with Bipolar
Getting turned down for jobs you know that you’re qualified for. Recruiters who ghost. Decoding job descriptions for signs of scams or toxic work environments. Stressing over the interview process. Waiting on a response for weeks or months while you worry about paying your bills. Wondering if you’ll ever find a job that you’re genuinely passionate about that pays a livable wage.
These are just some of the factors that can lead to frustration, burnout, and mood episodes while you’re job hunting with bipolar. I know because I myself have experienced them many times. Before I was diagnosed and medicated, job hunting was a nearly impossible task for me: I knew that it was necessary, but it pulled me down into such a deep depression that even sitting down in front of the computer to trawl online job boards was enough to send me into a panic-induced crying fit.
Conversely, it would occasionally trigger a manic episode: I would get so bored and frustrated with the job-hunting process that my brain would start to crave more stimulation than was healthy, tipping me over the edge into a not and all enjoyable high. Getting my symptoms under control with medication and therapy helped bring my symptoms under control, but it took a long time to regain my professional confidence. While I am thankfully in a good place now, I still experience career anxiety from time to time.
In order to address the challenges that come with job hunting while bipolar, I think that it’s important to acknowledge these feelings — even so-called « negative » ones — is the only way to break through to the other side where we can cope and take care of business.
How to Stay Motivated While Job Hunting with Bipolar
These are motivational strategies that have worked for me when I’ve had to job hunt while attempting to manage my bipolar disorder. Feel free to adjust as you see fit.
1. Make a career plan and apply to jobs that align with it.
Where do you want to be in the next five years? Ten years? Whether it’s growing your current career or forging a new path, sit down and get honest about the direction you want to take. From there, tailor your job hunt to positions that align with your goals.
2. Set boundaries and track your progress.
They say that looking for a job has to be your full-time job, but this strategy has never worked for me. It’s far too easy for me to get overwhelmed and burned out when I spend all day scouring the Internet for job openings and filling out applications and taking online assessments. Instead, I set a goal of applying to a certain number of jobs per day and blocking off a chunk of time to do it.
To help me keep track of my progress, I keep a spreadsheet that includes the name of the position I apply for, the company, the dates when I applied and followed up, whether or not I submitted a custom resume or cover letter, and whether or not was invited to interview. I also include a section for each job where I list why I would be good at it as a way to keep my confidence up.
3. Reward yourself.
What would make you feel good after a day on the job hunt? Whether it’s a cup of your favorite coffee, spending time with a loved one, playing with a pet, or watching a favorite movie, give yourself small rewards for meeting your job hunting goals as a way to keep yourself motivated throughout the process.
Job hunting is rough — especially as the pandemic continues to drag on — but don’t give up on yourself. I believe that nine times out of ten, good things really do come to those who stay the course, even if the road is rocky and throws you a lot of surprise twists and turns.
Do you have any tips for staying motivated on the job hunt with bipolar? Tell us in the comments.