Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively.–Eleanor Roosevelt
Are you noticing the latest shift in your conversations, too?
Over the 8 weeks since we’ve been physically distanced, I’ve stayed connected by phone and Zoom with a wide circle of friends and clients.
It’s interesting how our conversations are evolving … how we’re adapting our way of thinking and expressing ourselves as we feel less threatened for our lives.
More and more, mainstream discussions are turning to work and career paths as April’s unemployment stats roll in.
How will we work, where will we work and what can we do to prepare for the new 9 to 5?
I don’t have all the answers. But I have a distinct perspective as a career coach and brand strategist who has led teams through natural disasters and other crises. I’m sensitive to the different stages we’ll go through together as a result of the coronavirus.
Below I share career guideposts (and action items) that have worked for me over the years. I believe they can help you excel while keeping you grounded.
Steering your career during COVID-19
After surviving my own near-death experience and helping business owners reboot from 4 hurricanes and an oil spill in my home state of Louisiana, I’m certain about one thing:
How you think about what’s happening today will have a profound impact on your career trajectory.
While the pandemic affects every part of our lives, we get to decide how we think about the pandemic and what we do with our time now.
As you shift to a new way of thinking about your work, use these 3 guiding principles to steer your career for the journey ahead.
No. 1: Adopt an explorer’s mindset.
Guess what most of my mid- to late-career women clients said they wanted from a job change before COVID-19? More flexibility and the chance to work from home.
If you’re working from home for the first time in your career, mentally explore the boundaries of your newfound freedom (no office, no commute).
- What’s something new you’ve learned about yourself?
- Could you love working remotely every day or most of the time, under more normal circumstances? Why or why not?
- If you could go back to how things were, would you? (Gallup’s latest poll reports 3 in 5 (59%) who are working remotely say they’d like to keep it that way.)
- What would make your work more fulfilling or meaningful?
Now’s the time to be an explorer and ask questions like the ones above. Don’t leave any what ifs unanswered.
- Reflect on your responses and craft that vision of success you’ve always wanted to define for yourself.
- Think about how you would shape this temporary situation into a long-term senior leadership role within a high-confidence industry, such as public administration, legal, finance, software or healthcare.
If owning a business is something you’d like to do one day, take small, low-risk steps to get there.
- Research your dream industry. Find people who are doing work you dream of and see if they would agree to a phone call—while they are still answering their phones.
- Go to instantdomainsearch.com and see if your name is available for your future website. Buy it if it is! Your personal name is essential to your personal and business brand’s stability and growth.
- Visit your Secretary of State’s online portal and learn how to establish a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). Set it up now. Add it to your LinkedIn profile and network to drum up volunteer or contract work in this new space.
There are endless ways that adopting an explorer’s mindset right now can lead to more meaningful and authentic work. (More thoughts here on being an explorer in the working world.)
I’ll share this personal story to illustrate why I’m most passionate about this guidepost.
It was an explorer who helped me regain the use of my right hand. In medical terms, my hand was degloved in 2017 when my Jeep Sahara rolled 3 times on the interstate after being hit from behind.
The first surgeon I met said I’d never use my right hand again. He didn’t question the obvious. (He didn’t have an explorer’s mindset.)
The second surgeon I met, the hero of my story, is an accomplished adventurer. He saw the unknown as opportunity. He performed what he called an exploratory surgery to see if he could reattach severed tendons and return function to my fingers and thumb. He found the tendons, operated on me a second time and restored my hand.
During this critical time, be open and curious about what you are being called to do. Experiment and see where your career can take you.
No. 2: Keep to your moral compass.
This pandemic is temporary, and its aftermath is unpredictable. Be thoughtful about a career change, job opportunity or business partnership that offers short-term gain but long-term pain for your personal brand and reputation.
- Research company websites, individual LinkedIn profiles and former employee reviews before saying yes.
- Prepare heart-provoking questions and ask for references.
- Keep to your moral compass—the unique set of core values that resides in your heart and guides your decisions (if you let them).
Think of your core values as your operating principles. They help you make important decisions by asking, “Does this choice line up with who I say I am and the values I hold?” (Here’s a great article for leaders about using your moral compass.)
I’ve observed this guidepost for years, and yet, I still make mistakes.
A few years ago when I decided to create the HerNature® brand, I needed help bringing my vision to life. I hired a digital strategist who was referred by a colleague. As we got deeper into discussions about the project, I felt something was off. But I pressed on, ignoring my gut, thinking I was being anxious about the investment I was about to make.
Within a few weeks after paying a 5-figure sum, things started to go awry. In the end, the contractor severed the relationship, kept half of my investment and left me hanging.
Our values had clashed. It was an expensive lesson, but a mixed blessing. (I found great partners who helped me create a brand I love.)
In addition to learning the value of legal counsel, I now give as much credence to my heart as my mind on important business decisions. I also initiate conversations about core values as part of my screening process with potential partners and clients.
Especially during this challenging time—stick to your moral compass, and you’ll improve your chances of attracting people, opportunities and businesses that are the best match for your future.
If you’d like to explore your core values, connect with me and I’ll send an activity I use with my clients. Then you’ll have no excuse not to let them be your guide.
No. 3: Navigate in the now.
“Intuition can only happen in the moment. Stay present. Let go of the future,” says Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, about dealing with overwhelm due to COVID-19.
If I had to pick one thing that has helped me succeed as an entrepreneur and survive personal and professional crises, it’s what Gilbert says. I’ve had to learn to not let my mind slip back into the past or skip ahead to the future.
But I have to work—every single day—at keeping my thoughts in the moment.
I believe we were created to handle only one day at a time. Once we start ruminating about why our company cut our salary or what we could have done differently to avoid being laid off, we become helpless. As soon as we try to predict when we can work with our team again or how long it will take to find a new job, we get stuck.
Intuition can only happen in the moment. Stay present. Let go of the future.—Elizabeth Gilbert, author and speaker
How do we stop reflecting or projecting when we need to stay in the here and now? Meditation, journaling, hiking and photographing nature work for me.
What’s important is that you identify what works for you.
- Is there an activity (or non-activity) that makes you lose track of time and ultimately stay in the moment?
- Have you set up 1 new daily routine to help you feel grounded? I start my days by listing 3 things I’m grateful for and reading Jesus Calling while drinking my 1st cup of coffee. (When I miss this routine, my day is a mess! So I know this works.)
- Are you learning something new? Something creative and/or useful? For instance, what’s the number 1 skill every company wants an employee to excel in? Communication! A quick search for communication courses on Edex revealed more than 400 free options.
Here’s a short list of free or low-cost professional development sites to check out: Edex.org | Coursera | Udemy | MOOC.
Practice what works for you.
Your practice of navigating in the now will bring about a powerful return. It will help keep you calm and allow you to concentrate on what you can control during the weeks and months ahead.
With the utmost belief in you,
P.S. Considering a career change (or are being forced into one)? Thinking about going into business for yourself? Let’s explore the right path for you, right now.
Photos: Cape San Blas, Florida by ©Carole Dupre LLC. All rights reserved.
As founder of HerNature®, Carole Dupre’ guides women in landing jobs and launching businesses that honor their true nature. She is a career and business branding coach and a certified personal brand strategist, resume writer and digital marketer.