#1 9-2-2017 8:41 AM

Couch Potato
Posts: 7

feeling lost and hopeless

Not sure where to start with this and obviously I don't want to go into a life story. However it is always difficult detailing ones circumstances without necessary information.
Last month I returned after a few months in S America.  Before I left I was in a contracted role in the civil service which I didn't mind doing and would have carried on there, however I didn't get the permanent job when it was offered. I had 4 other interviews for other roles but was not successful despite coming very close to getting one of them. I was torn about whether to travel or carry on looking for work but in the end I went for this trip. It was good trip, no regrets on that aspect.

Now I've been back for more than a month and it's been a very difficult time. I feel very anxious, low motivation, self pity and generally extremely disappointed with myself and my life.  I have been here before though, story of my life.

I'll be in my mid thirties in a few weeks time and the very thought of it is making me very anxious and in a panic. This is because I'm feeling completely lost and so far behind in life. I have no partner, no career and no job for now, no home (I live with family at the moment). I have nothing going for me. I never thought that I would reach this stage of my life and have very little to show for it. I do want to settle down, meet someone, have a family etc. but these things you cannot control of course. I have tried and keep trying but I think it's more to do with not really having that focus on what I actually want. I've thought about seeing a career coach but with the fees that they charge it's probably unrealistic at the moment.

For most of my life I have had no clue as to what to do with myself. I've struggled with depression etc so that hasn't helped.  I enjoy travelling, sport, aviation, movies etc. but so do alot of people.  As I said I was comfortable in working in the large government depts. where I've been before as I didn't mind the environment and lack of corporate culture.  I would love to live and work abroad as I've been settled in the UK for too long now.  Problem is I'm not an engineer or doctor where I can just take my skills anywhere.  I would settle for an ok job in a place like this, someone to come home to and a modest place to live.  That's not much to ask for yet I've never even come close to getting there. I have been stuck in this same place for so many years.


#2 9-5-2017 11:02 AM

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Re: feeling lost and hopeless

Hey :-)
I don't think am good at giving advice but I will try..of course I wish it will be at least a tiny bit helpful :-)
what about going as a "student" abroad? maybe you can get a new qualification for which you don't need 5 or 6 years and which gives you some more options when you look for a job (in that same country or another).  Am saying this because I remembered that there was a guy with us when I was a student (he was in his early 40s) and he joined our master's course because he was fed up with his previous job and wanted a fresh start in his life. You said you're not an engineer but there are courses for each discipline and level.

You know, when am down because of something,  I try to focus on the positive stuff and that I should be thankful for what I have...so if you summarize what you have (based on your text): you're healthy (which is the most important thing in life!), you have family which you can count on, you travelled a lot and am sure that you gathered a lot of memories and made a lot of friends...

Once more, am not sure if this is helpful but I wish it is :-)


#3 9-6-2017 7:06 AM

Sarah Elaine
Manchester, England
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Re: feeling lost and hopeless

You have an awful lot going on, and it's natural you'd feel a bit lost and overwhelmed.  So please offer yourself a little compassion on that front.  You're neither alone nor unusual.

First thing being, the best advice I ever got was sit yourself down and give yourself the advice you would give your best friend.  You're both more objective with your friends and also kinder.  We don't beat our friends up as much as you'd beat yourself. 

Then, figure out small steps you can control.  You can't control public sector austerity, global economic cycles or the odds of finding the perfect person straight away.  You can take small steps with some of the other stuff.  Don't try to solve the "what am i going to do with my life? where do I meet my life partner?" questions all at once.  Think about "what is achievable in the next week towards improving my skills/job search? What can I do to have a pleasant date with someone nice?"

Also, as a philosophical point, the self improvement literature talks a lot about motivation - there's no evidence motivation works.  What works is working.  When you read successful sportspeople, novelists, composers, CEOs etc they have a big overarching idea what they want to achieve, of course they do ("write a book").  But they don't sit in a chair and wait to feel motivated, and they don't go out looking for motivation.  They trust the process.  A good writer sits down and spews out however many thousand words or however many hours work regardless of whether they feel like it or whether it's nonsense, and then they edit it.  A sports star goes out every single morning even if they aren't feeling it, and does so many hours practice.  Then they hone it.  Trust the process, not the goal, and do something towards your dream every day even if it's tiny and feels hopeless. 

Depression - is there any help you can get for free?  Are you getting any outdoor time and exercise? - not to trivialise anything, the evidence base is that outdoor exercise, even walking, is as effective as many anti-depressants for mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Can you cut down your drinking or your processed sugar, or is that not an issue at the moment?  Is your GP any use?

Life coaching - yes, they tend to be really expensive.  But there are free tools you can use that go some way to starting the conversations you would have with them, given coaching is all about you figuring yourself out.  If you have access to a good public library, look for this book - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Techniques-Coa … 075065287X - and see if any of the exercises help you find a direction.  You can also get the VIA tool free online - http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Charact … ths-Survey - which is a work based strengths tool.  Figuring out what you want and don't want about a job rather than looking at industries might be quite helpful, as does working out your ambitions and then setting time limits on actual small steps towards them.  And think about what you really want against what society tells you you want.  I thought I wanted to be a successful public sector director by now, but I never wanted to work 80 hour weeks.  What I really wanted was to be respected and get to do interesting work - that's what I focus on now.

Many of us have less than they thought they would, and that includes people who look and sound very successful.  But nothing I have ever done has been a dead end.  I've gained skills and experience from even the worst jobs and the worst bosses have taught me what I would never do.  So don't tell yourself you've done nothing.  Every job will have taught you something, and now it's about how you sell that at interview.  Four interviews is not that many, not in the current climate, and considering there's always internal candidates for things.  Don't give up on yourself for that.

There IS an evidence base that the old counting your blessings and being grateful thing actually works - I've seen good advice that instead of/as well as a to do list, keep a list of things you've done that day (even "got up and helped mum do dinner", if things are that bad) to remind yourself you are not doing nothing.  Base your next steps on your strengths, not just plugging your weaknesses. 

And think of how many people would have been too scared to take that trip, and you took it.  How many people would not have your strong background in the civil service, therefore policy and administrative skills, and who have spent their lives in their hometowns.  That's stuff you can sell at interview.  It's also genuine achievement, when you think how many people never do that.  Chin Up!

Good luck, and I hope things look up for you, and some of that waffle is useful.

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