When you're truly unhappy in your current job, a new one can't get here fast enough. Having to drag yourself to the office each day can be the worst.
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When you're caught up in the emotion of it all, you begin to wonder why you don't have a new job yet. Is it a problem with your resume? Your cover letter? Your LinkedIn profile? Panic and frustration set in as the days go by without a new offer arriving.
Sometimes, however, it's none of those things at all. Sometimes, it's just a matter of time. It's easy to get swept up in your everyday responsibilities. Whether it's a current job, children, a side project, or social commitments, there's always something pressing to do. The job search gets pushed to the side, like a treadmill bought with the best intentions that sits gathering dust in the corner.
But just like physical health, your dream job will never find you unless you put in some real work. It's possible that a so-so job that pays almost enough will fall into your lap – but there's no guarantee that it will actually be better than the one you have now. That high-paying promotion you've been dreaming of will not be found easily. Those jobs are harder to find and to get. They require treating the process of getting a job like its own job.
I wish there was an easier way, but for the most part, elbow grease is the only answer. Making your job search the most important thing you're doing will move it forward faster.
Don't get me wrong: I strongly believe that preexisting commitments, such as family, should take top billing. It's the right decision and one that I truly respect. However, the more highly you can prioritize your search and the more time you're able to give it, the faster things will come together.
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Start by deciding how many hours each week you'd like to work on your search. Then picture when would be the best time to put in those hours. Are mornings easier for you? Is right after work the best? Is Sunday afternoon ideal? Whatever time you select, hold yourself to it. Let your family know that you're going to need a little extra time to focus on your search. Consider tracking your progress in a spreadsheet or on a calendar.
Prioritizing your search is, in reality, a lot like prioritizing yourself and your own happiness. It means making time for your future goals and your future self. It's a way of saying that you will not wait until your current job is so miserable that you can't stand it anymore. You won't wait for another tiny raise or a nonexistent promotion.
You're ready to take your search into your own hands because it's a priority for you. Only then will you find what you've been searching for.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.