Is it ok to have a career crisis during a pandemic?

Of course it is. In fact perhaps now more than ever we have had time to reflect on what we really enjoy and don’t enjoy about our work and for many, those restless feelings have started to take effect.

Before you dive headfirst into a career overhaul here’s some questions to ask yourself. 

Before Covid-19 what was I liking or disliking about my job? 

Do you not like your job or is it that you don’t like working during a pandemic and the aspects of it like working from home for example? Make a list of the good and bad in your role before Covid-19 and consider while there is an aspect of uncertainty the aspects of how we work right now will change over time. 

What’s my emotional state like right now?

Time for a self-check in. None of us have experienced anything like this before. It’s difficult but important to separate our feelings from what is happening in the world right now vs how you’re feeling about work.  Living through a pandemic and changing careers are both life changing events. Can you deal with the stress of both right now? Do you have support financially and from friends and family if you need it? 

Is it your job or the career you don’t like? An important distinction. Sometimes it might simply be your existing team. Think back to a time when you did enjoy your career – what was it about the role you enjoyed then? How has this changed? Could this be met by pivoting to a new role within the company or does it mean leaving your existing job? Clients can always tell me what they don’t like about their current job but when we take time to sit down and look at what they value in a career and a business, not only is it super motivating but it also gets you very focused on the steps you need to take in order to make change happen.

What is your personal narrative? 

Your personal brand is the story you sell every day whether you’re on a Zoom call, out for a socially distanced coffee or catching up with friends on the phone. What are you telling yourself and others about where you’re at right now? Are you dithering over ideas and asking for others to make a decision for you? Or are you focused and telling people exactly what you are looking for and how you see your new job unfolding for you. Whether you’re in person or on social media your personal narrative is what people will remember. And when you get the interview process this is the story they will take or leave. Having some clarity about your direction and awareness of your personal brand is an essential component in career transitions. 

What career capital can you leverage?  What do you have already in your career toolbox that you can utilise when considering a move? Evidence suggests you are far more likely to be more satisfied in a new role if you’ve moved using existing skills than throwing caution to the wind and following solely your passion. List your skills and consider where else they might work. 

What can you learn from your current role?  Many of my clients have never considered the existing opportunities available to them until they sit down and map it out. Being employed while researching and planning your next career move also gives you some security. There may also be opportunities to try new skills by seconding to another team or approaching someone more senior to mentor you. If the opportunities aren’t at work and why not start a side hustle, get involved in a non for profit project or find a course to build on your career capital.  

What is the outlook for your industry in the next while? Speak to others within your field, get a gauge and consider a move away if necessary to continue growing your skillset and perhaps come back to this area once the pandemic doesn’t so heavily affect it. 

Who within your network is worth chatting to right now? 

When you are feeling ready to move start by seeking out contacts who will expand your horizon. Immediate friends and family can be good but they already know you, reach out to those dormant ties who you were once close to but you haven’t spoken to in a while or ask friends and family for referrals to someone new who is involved in an area you’re pursuing. Keep in mind some contacts may be under extra pressure during the pandemic so suggesting a quick phone call rather than a 1 hour coffee date may be more appropriate. 

It’s important to remember pandemic or no pandemic, career change is never perfectly linear – it’s a messy journey of exploring, experimenting and can move sideways as much as up and down. So strap yourself in, get support where required and be open to what comes your way.  

A short & sweet lesson in Being.

How often to do you find yourself rationalising with a friend  “Well once I have my fancy new kickers,  tropical break in Bali, sleek road bike, renovated villa or complete makeover then I’ll be cooler, relaxed, faster, more settled or hotter and then I’ll definitely be happy”. No matter what it is – a little or large purchase , a relationship, a new job, weight-loss or a move to a new city we cleverly convince ourselves this ‘thing’ will bring us that one step closer to being happy, fulfilled and completely 100% satisfied.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I L.O.V.E to shop. I know a change of scenery brings feelings of a fresh start and going from single to loved up is undoubtedly brilliant but there’s a lesson here which has been around for a while and always worth a refresher.

No matter where you go, there you areWhen you focus on the having instead of the being you are less satisfied and fulfilled long term.  You are also hugely attached to that exact want providing a feeling that you crave but once it stops giving you the feeling you look for a new shiny thing to fulfill youAnd as someone who has lived in 7 cities I can vouch for that fact that no matter where I go, there I am. I take the same stuff with me in a wee magical back pack and somehow it follows me everywhere I go!

So what to do? Turn it on its head. Instead of focusing on Have. Do. Be we consider the Be. Do. Have.

Focus on how you are being. Yes, you want to have a smaller bootie, a slick set of wheels or an apartment better than anything on The Block but how about looking at WHO you want to be first and then think about what you might be doing and having as a result of this change of focus.

If you have a job interview for example rather being attached to your shiney new job and all the great things it will give you why not focus on who you are being in that interview. Are you being eloquent, intelligent, analytical or smart and savvy – by focusing on who you are being you will be demonstrating how you will act in your potential job and then bring yourself closer to having more long term satisfaction. Similar to my moving of cities I often believed a new job would bring fulfillment but after the glitter and tassles wear off those same feelings of ho hum soon crept in because I had been so focused on what the job would give me rather than who I would be.

I read this great quote from renowned designer Diane Von Furstenburg yesterday in the April edition of #Next magazine  “I tell my grandchildren before they go to sleep at night, think of the person you want to be, and start having fun being that person. Because that is the person you’ll become”.

So who are you going to dream of being tonight? And how will that play out tomorrow?  We are human beings after all.