COVID-19: 3 Career questions to ask yourself during this ‘new normal’

Web Editor | ConsumerConnect

Naturally, it may be counterintuitive or contrary to expectations, but unwanted and unwelcomed experiences often lead to positive outcomes in the end.

Indeed, researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, in the United States, found that negative experiences may have the unexpected benefit of enhancing well-being, reports Forbes.

Difficult times can serve as a catalyst that pushes you to ask deeper questions and seek greater meaning in your life.

Report relates that the global crisis resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic has led to personal challenges and hardships for many people.

While some situations have particularly grave implications, almost everyone has been impacted negatively in some way.

It is natural that even those grateful to be safely hunkered down at home will be living with anxiety. This is compounded if you have experienced a disruption in your employment or worry that one may soon be coming.

If you are in this position, don’t try to jump directly from a heightened state of disorientation, frustration or fear into a search for meaning.

Every person will have their own pace at which they are able to process their experience. Take your time.

For those of you that are close to finding a rhythm in this new normal and may even have extra mental space for reflection, here are three career questions that you can begin responding to right now.

Each question will help you find value in what you’ve been through so far and determine what you may need to change about your work life moving forward.

  1. Which relationships have become stronger?

During a crisis, it becomes much more evident how strong your relationships truly are. Think about the people that you’ve interacted with virtually over the last few weeks.

Who were you moved to check in on? Who have you helped to regain their footing during the inevitable bad days? Who has been there for you?

Nothing shapes your career trajectory like the strength of your network. However, some people mistakenly believe that having a large number of contacts will mean they will have a wide network that is ready to jump in with support, advice and introductions when they need them most. This simply isn’t true.

Shallow connections are better than nothing, but what really moves the needle in your career is the number of people that truly care about you.

Those are the people that will keep you top of mind for opportunities even when you aren’t looking, and they are pivotal to the success of any work goal you dare to pursue.

The key to building and maintaining these kinds of relationships is to reciprocate these feelings and care equally about the people in your network. Stand ready to be as supportive and helpful to them as possible.

Spend some time reflecting on how the current crisis has shaped or is shaping your relationships. Have you grown closer to anyone on your team? Has your network within your company expanded as a result of a crisis-related project?

Have you been able to shift what was once a strictly professional relationship (with your clients or industry contacts) into something much more personal and meaningful?

If so, know that these changes in your relationships are likely to remain after this uncertain period, and that they may even deepen at a faster pace.

Reflect on your successes, but don’t let this exercise become another source of stress. If it inspires you to reach out to more people, great, but the purpose isn’t to add any additional pressure to network during this time.

Your only goal is to reflect on what has already transpired around you and remind yourself that many of your professional relationships are genuine and valued.

  1. How has this experience made you more resilient?

Every career has ups and downs, so anything that teaches you to become more resilient will have a long-lasting effect on your work life.

Resilience isn’t something you can easily attain; instead, it is primarily gained through unexpected lived (and often difficult) experiences.

If there is any silver lining in what you are currently enduring from day to day, it is that you will likely emerge more resilient.

The purpose of this question is to help you consider the unique ways that this crisis may prepare you to succeed in your future career challenges.

For working parents, you may have hit your lowest point in the struggle to maintain work-life balance.

So if there is any comfort to be found, it may be in the knowledge that things will never be worse than they are right now—which means you can more easily bear what life will inevitably throw at you.

More importantly, this crisis could forever shape your perspective on work and teach you important lessons about how and when to put family first.

For some of you who are working from home, it may cause you to realize that you were clinging too tightly to a need for perfection, power or validation that is more easily met from in-person team dynamics.

You will be a more resilient leader and colleague if you are now able to better observe your emotional needs and are mindful to their pitfalls.

While it’s a privilege to be able to work from home, the reality is that your work life is far from ideal right now.

However, there will be many times throughout your career when you find yourself in good jobs that get close to giving you most of what you want but are still lacking in certain ways.

No job is perfect and the resiliency you are building right now will allow you to get the most out of the opportunity anyway.

These are just a few examples of how you might be growing more resilient, but everyone’s situation will be different.

Keep exploring this question and you’ll have a stronger sense of how you are now better equipped to take the good with the bad over the long arc of your career.

  1. What will you make time for?

It would be a shame to re-enter your old life when this is all over without re-evaluating how you truly want to use your time.

A crisis usually sharpens the focus on your priorities and may even have revealed feelings that you’ve been repressing, such as a desire to work from home regularly, to travel for work either more or less, or to find greater fulfillment in what you do every day.

You may also realise that there is a boss or colleague you don’t enjoy being around and aren’t looking forward to returning to in the workplace.

Perhaps you’ve spent some of your time at home thinking about an important career goal you’ve procrastinated on and now hope to revisit.

While you may emerge from this time with a passion to move closer toward the life you desire, nothing will actually change unless you create time to take tangible steps toward a new reality.

To get there, you have to ask yourself what was holding you back previously. Why haven’t you already got a new job, written a book, or launched that business? For most people the answer is simple—you didn’t have enough time to focus on it.

But don’t let the current state create any illusions about how life will be moving forward. Things will pick up again and you still won’t have the time to devote to these goals if you put your life back together piece by piece just as it was.

Over the next few weeks, do an honest assessment of what you want to make time for when this is all over.

Is it the same stuff you did before, or do you need to let go of some of your old professional or personal obligations permanently in order to finally move forward on these new projects?

Many demands on your time will clearly be out of your control. If you need to return to the office or back to a life of constant travel to maintain your livelihood, that won’t change immediately.

Moving toward your ideal work life is a process and rarely happens in one or two quick steps. Instead, you’ll have to stay committed to keeping it a priority even when life gets busy again.

All you need to do right now is to use this reflection time to get real with yourself about what you want and why.

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