Job search can be stressful, no matter what your personal or professional situation. There can be time pressure, financial pressure, identity pressure, family pressure—it’s up there with other events like moving,  planning a wedding or having a new child. If you are on unemployment, there are requirements for search in order to continue to receive benefits. People, while well-meaning, can be judgmental about the amount of time you invest in search.

Amidst these stresses, it can feel like an all or nothing situation – we’re either in full-on search mode, or barely going through the motions. Either way, the thought of taking a retreat can sound foolish when unemployed – you need to get a job quickly! And if you are employed and running a search, it’s hard to even make time for job search nonetheless a retreat.

Still, it can be just what you need. This can be a difficult shift in thinking, but well worth it. You can come back from your retreat feeling renewed, with more energy to draw from, and with much-needed perspective.

When Taking a Retreat Might Be Right For You

According to Sara McCord, there are some specific job search behaviors that might indicate you need to take a breather: applying to every job under the sun, advancing in interviews but not getting offers.  In addition, there are some other general experiences that point to the need for retreat:

  • Increasing Irritability – if you find yourself grouchy, whether internally, with family and friends, or your networking partners
  • Physical and Mental Exhaustion – this can manifest in getting sick or simply unable to think clearly
  • Feeling Stuck – being unable to see the next step in front of you or your own search vision
  • Can’t see small wins – small wins are huge in search, for momentum and confidence.

There’s no one right way or right time to take a retreat. This is incredibly personal. We’ve got plenty of rules and best practices and expectations in search – taking a retreat is a place where you have 100% control. Per the theme of this blog, it is an inside job. Retreats don’t have to cost money or take a long time. The idea is to have some time where you are not immersed in job search. No judgment about this, this is your time.

Creating Your Retreat

  • Where? Pick a place that feels renewing – this isn’t the same for everyone, some want solitude, some get energized by being around people. Go where feels good to you.
  • How long? Choose an amount of time that does not create more anxiety – this can be an hour, a whole day or a week.
  • Activity or no activity? What will allow your mind and body to relax is the most important criteria.
  • Alone or with others? If it feels relaxing to spend time with others, wonderful. Just avoid a sense of obligation.

You get to decide if you want to tell anyone about your retreat. No one needs to know, and sometimes it can feel good to protect this time. If you do decide to share about your retreat (what it was, how it went), then you could inspire others to do the same.

Remember, other than maybe some welcome stress release, there is no need for this to have a particular outcome. As much as possible, disconnect from an evaluation of your retreat. Stay in the present and understand that even if the benefits are not immediate, you don’t know what in the coming days or weeks could come from taking this much-needed break.