“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” This insight from Marie Curie applies regardless of what we’re afraid of: viruses (i.e. death), failure, success, being replaced or irrelevant, loss, etc. The more we deepen our understanding of what’s behind the fear, the better we can face it and work through it to get the outcome we desire. This is especially true in these times of uncertainty and insecurity, when it can feel like we have no control over our circumstances.
And yet, what we can take control of is how we respond to the chaos and volatility in the world around us to affect our outcomes for the better, even when we’re looking to make a career change and the timing seems bad and we’re tempted to pull back. It’s easy to make assumptions that we can’t make a move when there’s a crisis happening, and while some options may not be available to us in the moment, we can certainly set ourselves up to be well-positioned in the future. Those who press forward during difficult times will fare better in the long run than those who retract from a career change.
How? By focusing on a few areas of your world that may need some tending to that have been neglected or pushed to the background lately:
Health: This is a great time to get your proverbial house in order when it comes to your physical and mental health. Turning inward and working on yourself goes a long way toward uncovering what’s holding you back and any fears, disappointments, or anger you’ve been avoiding working through because there’s always something else that takes precedence. You name it, we are experts at putting it up as a roadblock. Whether it’s changing diets or an exercise regimen (or starting one) or assessing what’s really going on as a root cause of our issues, this is an opportunity to take stock and make decisions on what needs to be different for you to thrive, however you define success.
Relationships: Much has already been written on the importance of staying connected to people during this time of quarantine and distancing and much will most likely change when it comes to how we interact in the future as a result, as well as what businesses survive and in what form. What are the relationships in your life that are important and what can you do to engage with those folks to keep them intact? Who in your network haven’t you talked to in a while and how can you connect to check in? What’s the shape of your online presence and what needs to be done to get it to the point where you’re connecting to those who you can both give something to and get something from as a value-added relationship for your career and theirs? Assess, act, and (virtually) connect as needed.
Goals: So, what were those New Year’s resolutions you set a few months ago? How’s it going with them? What have you been meaning to get to “someday” that you can tackle, even if in small bites? As the clock keeps ticking, reminding yourself of the goals you’ve set and scheduling time to make progress on them can relieve anxiety and buoy your spirits to pull out of any paralysis you may be experiencing. Separating yourself from the 24/7 drip of horrible news of the day and creating some physical separation from those in your environment, even if only for an hour, to revisit your goals and gain a bit of momentum can put things in greater perspective and lead to empowerment.
Environment: There’s a reason why charitable organizations are seeing an uptick in donations of “stuff” in recent weeks. People are taking time to get organized and ditch the clutter that’s been in their environment and weighing them down, literally or figuratively. What needs cleaning, purging, rearranging, or repurposing in your immediate environment that’d make a big difference to your outlook and wellbeing? For me, personally, when my “stuff” is in chaos or piling up, I feel in chaos and heavy. When we clear the clutter, whether in our environment or our heads, we can have clarity of thought and purpose, so it becomes much easier to make decisions. Spend some time getting organized and you’ll notice a big difference, I bet, in your mindset and overall health.
Learning: As a lifelong learner, and advocate of it, I use gaining new knowledge and skills both for stress relief and personal/professional development. What’s some reading, listening, or watching of content you can do to escape from what’s swirling around you while keeping your mind sharp and engaged? What are you curious about that intrigues you or what’s a skill you’ve wanted to develop that can benefit you and other people? What’s research you can do that aligns with what you’re thinking for a career move so you can be a step ahead and share what you discovered? There’s no end to content available and people to learn from in a virtual/long-distance world these days, so take advantage of it while you can.
Recognizing when we’re fearful and doing the work to understand where it comes from puts us on the path of taking action and changing our view of our situation. This can then set you up to move forward, regardless of the crisis at hand and how long we endure it, freeing you to take charge of your future.