Just got an email from a reader who is having a hard time getting a job in his industry in his home country, dislikes some things about his culture, and it's leading to him feeling like he's in a bit of a rut. Here's my reply -
I see 2-3 basic themes here.
1. Job market
2. Home country or not
3. General feelings about yourself
Re: The job market, I don't entirely know because I've never been salaried. However, one thing I do know is that people don't hire off resumes, they hire off personal connections. To that end, you'd do well to do a couple things - accomplish cool things - anything - in the world to prove you're competent, and start reaching out to people to connect with them. Accomplishing could literally be anything - write essays/analysis on finance, organize an event, get additional credentials, hell even put together a small group of people to clean up a local park or something. When I say anything, I mean anything. Obviously money/revenues/tangible-value-created is superior to random stuff, but doing anything + connecting with people is going to be helpful.
Re: Your country, well, traveling can help - I've gotten a lot of it - but remember that you bring yourself with you wherever your go. Some problems might be location related if your home culture isn't a good fit for you, but you'll still be you wherever you go... leaving your home and striking off can sometimes solve problems but certainly not all of them.
Re: General feelings, I think the only way to get out of a rut is gradual trend upwards progress. Work on the fundamentals - improve your diet a little bit, exercise and get into motion a little bit (even a 10 minute walk), do some breathing, do some stretching, take some vitamins, try to write 10 emails to people you don't know over the next week and who cares if they don't reply (generally, if they're shorter and have one clear request for an answer, you're more likely to get a reply), read a little more, disengage a little more from some of the most high stimulation distraction you've got going on. If a guy was addicted to TV for 10 hours a day, I'd tell him to attempt to get it down to 9.5 hours tomorrow, and use the .5 hours stretching, taking a walk, and reading for 10 minutes.
Seriously, that's progress. If I had a magical solution I'd offer it, but I don't know anything other than focusing on the fundamentals for an extended period of time. Eat better, sleep better, breath, stretch, connect with people, work on tangible accomplishments, read, track your time a little, do some goal setting, cut back on intoxicants, cut back on high stimulation distraction, spend some time in nature, fully relax and disengage if you're burnt out, keep a set schedule... none of this is really complicated, but it does take some time to right the ship. I do find general trend upwards + do tangible stuff in the world + connect with people = results.
I hope that helps. This is almost a full length post, so I'll edit it a bit and take out personal details and put it up on the blog in the next day or two - so maybe there'll be some more good feedback in the comments. Cheers man,
Your comments for someone feeling like he's in a rut and not getting jobs by sending out resumes, dear reader?
Well, my advice to this guy would be this: Move to another country and experience a new culture! I felt like a new person when I visited Norway for an example. Sometimes we are not fit to live in an environment. We may have ideas and feelings that are different from those we live with. Then it´s better to get away. You need to fit in and love the people around you. This is extremely importent. Love is the answer!
I cast an impassioned vote for for number #3 (General feelings about yourself). Subscribing to the axiom: where there is a will there is a way. When I feel good about myself, I feel empowered and always find a way.
I guess getting a job can be a difficult task some times.
Depending on the industry you want to work in the application process can be very time consuming (I spent a week applying for a job once) and when you get the dreaded email telling you that your application wont be taken any further you will inevitably feel down. Even worse when the company refuses to give you feedback on what they believe you are lacking.
I try to be optimistic. Probably it wasn't meant to be. I landed an incredibly well paid job once that now I wish I hadn't got in the first place..
When let down, as a software developer, I try spending most of my time coding for open source projects, exploring new technology and set a couple of hours a day for applications. Sport always helps get things out of my head as well.
When called in for an interview I show off whatever I did whilst being out of work. I think employers like seeing people that do stuff even if they are not told to do them.
Hope my experience helps.
I received a thought-provoking email from a reader about the nature of the internet. Here's the key quote that I think many people with empathize with:
I feel like a big luddite for saying this, but I hate the internet for what it brings out in me.
... I am trying to deal with what can only be described as an addiction.
Addiction to high-stimulation-distraction is quite common for intelligent people in the modern era. Surfing the internet, video games, things like that. There's sort of a natural selection websites go through, where the more addicting sites win out and spread and take marketshare and mindshare away from less addicting sites. Paul Graham wrote about this in, "The Acceleration of Addictiveness."
Three key thoughts for you, and then I'll share some of my experience with it -
This is the best reason I have ever come up with for meditation.
I have never meditated. Tried it once, last year, for a few weeks. It didn’t stick.
In my book, I talked about how nearly everyone is addicted to validation.
Being validated by others. It’s an addiction far worse than any drug or alcohol or anything like that. Not to your physical health, but it’s what’s stopping you from growing up.