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How to Be Happy While in a Job Search: 4 Secrets of NYT Bestselling Author Gretchen Rubin

According to Broadway’s Annie, you may never be “fully dressed without a smile,” though sometimes it’s hard to wear that smile when you’re in the middle of a job search. No matter how you spin it, job search is hard — especially since what you do is so often tied closely to the quality of life you are able to live.

Enter Gretchen Rubin, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project, a book which chronicles both research — and her personal experiments on happiness. Last week I had the opportunity to hear her speak in New York. Today, I’m passing along four of her secrets that you can use in your own job search — without investing a dime.

The Happiness Project


1. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself.

Receiving compliments may be nice, but research shows that we tend to be happier when we’ve done something that makes us feel good about ourselves. Rubin’s suggestion: ” It’s better for you to do things that make you feel good and proud about yourself than it is for other people to tell you that you’re great.

2. Make your bed.

It may sound like a small thing, but Rubin says making your bed will help you accomplish two things: First, you will start the day by feeling like you’ve already accomplished something. Secondly, you’ll know you have a clean, welcoming place to sleep at the end of the day. You can skip the hospital corners if you want.  What’s most important is just getting it done!

3. No matter how long your to-do list is, do the “one minute” projects first.

Have a mug that needs to be washed? An e-mail from a friend that needs to be returned?  A dentist appointment to make? Start your work by taking care of the easy projects you can take of right away. It will help you feel like you’ve accomplished something — which will make you more inclined to keep going. Note: We’ve checked and it takes less than 60 seconds to track a job you’ve applied to inside StartWire.

4. Eliminate the clutter.

Does your favorite white shirt have a stain that won’t come out? Need to put out the recycling?  Have clothes in the wrong size? Clear the decks, says Rubin. If you don’t need it, having additional space can be enormously liberating.

Worried you won’t be able to afford the right clothes for your next interview?If you’re unemployed and need assistance, check out Dress for Success (for Women) or Career Gear (for men).If you’re worried about having two good suits for first and second round interviews, try borrowing a secret from frequent fliers who roam the halls of Congress. Keep one great suit in black or navy and use different accessories for different days.

Want to make sure you don’t lose track of your job search records? Don’t forget to use StartWire‘s free tools to track your job applications — and generate work search records required by many state unemployment offices (if applicable).

Get moving. Make your bed. Do the easy things first. Clear the clutter. These are simple steps you can take to move forward with greater happiness — regardless of whether or not that hiring manager calls you when she said she would!

These are our starting tips for feeling happy while in a job search; what additional strategies do you use?

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