These are strange times. The human brain isn’t a fan of ambiguity, yet in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we find ourselves in a constant state of uncertainty while searching for answers, wondering what’s next and struggling with conflicting information.
Feeling a lack of control is enough to make anyone anxious. And while things will continue to feel this way for a while longer regarding the health and economic challenges we’re experiencing, there are some actions you can take today to gain some control of your career during this time. Your career may or may not be on the forefront of your mind at the moment depending on your individual circumstances, however, for most, is it a fact of life that needs to be managed both for now and for when we emerge from the current situation.
Here’s what you can do to feel more empowered in your career during corona crisis:
Recognize that action squashes anxiety. Without a clear path, thoughts bounce around our minds like silver balls in a pinball machine. It’s not productive, and worse, it stirs up more anxiety. While you may not know the specific action to take for your career or may be lacking direction from your company, do something. Clarity comes through action and one step forward may be exactly what you need to reveal the next step. Pinpoint the source of your fear and address it. For example, if your paycheck is evaporating, identify federal, state and local benefits that may help (check here). Don’t assume you’re not eligible for resources like unemployment benefits — pick up the phone and call. Try nonprofits, churches, and Apps like Nextdoor — these are places where individuals are coming together to help others. Contact your electric company, landlord, and other utilities to see what exceptions they might be able to make. Don’t be deterred. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative news and one-off anecdotal stories and begin to believe that hope is dwindling. Everyone is trying to figure out how to navigate this novel situation and companies and individuals are stepping up everyday, so make suggestions and see what’s possible.
Prepare, but don’t go overboard. “Catastrophizing” is a cognitive distortion that causes your brain to assume the worst possible outcomes and unfortunately, humans are very skilled at this (note: research shows that the average person uses just over one roll of toilet paper weekly). As it relates to your career, a recession is a real possibility and we are already seeing stalled promotions, furloughs and job losses. We’ve been hearing about this possibility for months, but it’s accelerated greatly with the recent events. If you’ve not taken steps to prepare, get started now. Use your time to assess your strengths, abilities and accomplishments over the last year. Review your resume, update your LinkedIn, close skill gaps, practice interviewing via video and cultivate your network (while quarantined, use social media, emails and phone calls). It’s true, many companies have slowed down hiring in the last few weeks, but others have not, so don’t make assumptions. If you’re feeling well and have extra time, this could be a great opportunity for some to build skills by taking online courses, building a social media following, writing your book or creating a personal website. (note: If you’d like to take any of my LinkedIn Learning courses for free and don’t have Premium membership, reach out to me on LinkedIn and I will gift them to you).
Tap into your superpower. We all have unique strengths — remaining calm under pressure, amazing creativity, a talent to make others laugh, wicked technology skills, the ability to see potential gaps in a plan, extreme resourcefulness, deep compassion. Each of us possesses more inner strength than we realize, and it’s easy to forget because thankfully, we aren’t often called to step up to such extreme conditions. But consider that many of us have come through very trying situations before, whether on a national level like 9/11 or on a personal level through sudden or unexpected tragedy. Now is the time to RISE. Show your boss a side of you she’s not yet had a chance to see. Be a role model for your colleagues through your example, leadership and ideas. Be a voice of reassurance when others on your team begin to get down. Roll up your sleeves to help a co-worker who is ill or caring for loved ones. If your pay hasn’t been impacted, donate to services and charities that are helping those who have lost wages. Make an extra effort to thank and support the medical professionals who are on the front lines. We can all be superheroes by using our special talents. Don’t wait to be called on — there is something you can impact positively right now.
Practice patience. We’re all a little nervous, and depending on your situation, what’s driving that fear comes from your personal circumstances. Some individuals are very fortunate to have paid sick leave or an ability to work from home (sadly, fewer than 1 in 3), while others are finding themselves without a paycheck or having to make tough choices to pay the bills. Others are overworked in medical facilities, perhaps earning overtime pay, but worried about getting infected, infecting others or finding childcare. It’s not the time to judge or preach when we can’t possibly fully understand everyone’s individual circumstances. Even if we’re fighting different demons, we’re all in this together and will experience a better outcome if we all lead with some compassion.
Note: Since things are changing so rapidly and there’s much to consider, it’s difficult to address these points in great detail in any one article. So, I will be delving deeper into certain career topics impacted by the coronavirus in the weeks to come. If you’re interested in following, please bookmark my Forbes page or follow me on social media. Happy hunting and stay well.
Reposted from: Forbes.com