Going through a huge life transition like a divorce can already be difficult, particularly if you’re a father and you need to make your kids a priority – but what happens if you also need to find a job? With so many stressful factors colliding, it can feel like there isn’t enough time or brainpower to go around.
This goes doubly so if it’s a situation involving a divorce and child custody talks; since both of these processes can be emotionally draining, it’s difficult to find the energy and the focus needed to properly search for a job. In fact, a blog post at Career Horizons says that “losing one’s job and ending one’s marriage both hold a ‘top 5’ ranking among the toughest emotional challenges that a person might go through in their lifetime.”
Fortunately, you’re not the first man to go through a taxing situation like this, and so there’s plenty of advice out there on how to juggle your priorities and manage your emotions while also putting in enough effort to your job hunt. Let’s take a look at how you can put the right amount of focus on your job search while also dealing with your life transition at the same time.
Sort Your Priorities
It can be tough to determine your priorities when everything’s in upheaval. However, it helps to put your focus on the one thing that you can work on immediately – your job search – and see how your priorities inform what jobs you’re looking for.
When it comes to where your job and your life intersect, what’s most important to you? Is it flexibility, so you have time to pick up your kids from school? Is it a good salary, so you can continue to provide for them? Is it a work-life balance, so you won’t have to be checking your email while you spend quality time with your children? No matter what your motivation is, you should be looking for a job where you don’t have to compromise what you find important.
Major life transitions can mean that life outside of work is difficult enough – you don’t want your working life to be the same way.
If you’re in the middle of big life changes – like a divorce, a cross-country move, or a new child, for example – it can be common to have mood swings, and even feel down on yourself. This has a huge impact on your job search, because low self-esteem can undermine your talents and make you feel like you’re not as skilled as you are. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of self-doubt, which can make it even harder to focus on your job search.
Instead, fight back against these sad moods by making a physical or mental list of what you’re good at professionally, and what skills you have that will help you get the job you want. An article at the Catholic Match Institute advises to “take a careful inventory of your skills, accomplishments, experiences, passions and values as you address your job situation… This inventory will help you clearly and confidently articulate what you can offer a prospective employer and assist in making the right job choice from a fit perspective.”
Ask for Help Professionally – and Personally
One of the best things anyone can do in a job search is to reach out to their network of friends and family. Given how interconnected everyone is, it can be a huge advantage to have someone put in a good word for you in their place of employment. Alternatively, your acquaintances could suggest workplaces where you should apply, or even give you a different perspective on career pursuits. It can be tough to admit to people that you’re out of work and looking for a job, but take heart in the fact that there’s no shame in a job search, and people are almost always more than happy to help if you ask. You might just be surprised who lends a hand to help you find new employment.
There’s also the matter of emotional balance. You might be feeling out of sorts, especially if your transition has hostile roots or if you’re being forced to make a big life change under duress. That’s where asking for help from a professional comes in – and you shouldn’t be ashamed to do it. Speaking to a therapist or psychiatrist can help relieve some of the mental stress around your life changes, your search for employment, and your connection to your kids.
Taking the Next Step
Looking for a job is a stressful task in and of itself, but combined with something like a divorce or custody battle, it can quickly become overwhelming. But if you take the time to focus your energy on your job hunt, you might just find that the accomplishment of taking steps towards your next career – as well as cataloging your strengths and successes – could, in turn, help you cope with your major life transition. Be sure to keep your priorities in mind and ask for help if needed, and you should have much less trouble righting the career ship – and eventually getting your personal life back on track.
Contributed By: Peter Mueller, Founder at Father’s Rights Law Center and FathersRights.com. Mr. Mueller has been practicing law for 39 years and is licensed in California and Illinois. Graduating with honors from Loyola Law School in 1972, he was selected to associate with Chicago’s leading corporate firm and was also invited to become a Visiting Professor of Corporate Law at Loyola Law, where he had held the position as Assistant Dean of the Business School during his law studies. At Loyola Law he taught upper-class law students the core courses in business law while he worked for General Motors, American Oil Company, The Tribune Company, and the Catholic Bishop at Kirkland & Ellis, LLP.