COVID-19, change and taking control of your career
Are you thinking about career coaching to enhance your opportunities? Has COVID-19 raised concerns for what your career may look like in 6 months’ time? What would seeing all the opportunities clearly mean to you?
How COVID-19 is affecting us
We are experiencing unprecedented times and many of us are feeling challenged, overwhelmed, curious or anxious amongst other heightened emotions - all of which is normal as we navigate working from home, returning to work in some form, family pressures, supplier delays or as we experience the changes other ongoing lockdown repercussions necessitate.
This is a period of flux, of change. Uncertainty leads to a necessity - more than ever perhaps - to support your mindset, emotional well-being and overall health. By looking after yourself, you actually help yourself and others. You become more resilient, remain more composed and retain clearer thinking. This leads to better choices around your career – and life overall.
In a place of heightened negative emotions or sufferings, including fear, stress, anxiety, and anger, that the pandemic has seen a rise, the mind becomes foggy. You move away from making the most beneficial choices or decisions; you may be harsh with someone you are normally calm with, you may feel guilty that you cannot do more to help others, you may feel scared of becoming ill, or have anxiety around job security or your career prospects. Work/life balance may seem impossible.
These are all experiences that clients have shared with me and that we are working through proactively. Enforced change, such as having to stay at home or not see a loved one in their home, or to have to use public transport when you feel it is too soon, often leads human beings to reflect and can encourage feelings of resentment, frustration, loss, worry; for others, they may want to defy the guidelines as it means losing too much control. However, what happens to those who defy the guidelines and become unwell? We have a wider duty to society now to be safe.
Nobody wants to spend each day in heightened anger, stress or anxiety. It is detrimental to physical and mental health which, in effect, means you cannot function at your best. If you cannot function at your best, you risk conflict in relationships, at work, or even within yourself. You risk not seeing all the opportunities ahead clearly. You may miss seeing your truest skills and attributes and you may risk making a poor career-related decision.
When we are operating at our optimum, life is just more pleasant.
What can you, therefore, do to maintain optimal well-being to ensure you are working and living as fully as possible?
Tips for taking control
Focus on what you are able to control - If you are worried or stressed more than usual, take a pause. Notice your breathing and allow it to gently slow down.
We often take for granted the simplest of things that we control, for example: the time we choose to rise in the morning, which friend we call, what we eat for lunch, where we buy our food from, or which movie to watch and so on. Being in control creates a sense of security and empowerment. You may not have considered these examples in this way before but, by appreciating them more at a deeper level (the freedoms) can be extremely helpful. At times, you may feel that you have lost control; perhaps a colleague, friend or senior leader orders you to do something that you don’t want to do but feel that you have to. Has that ever happened to you? If so, how did it make you feel?
When we feel, or imagine, that we are losing control - that autonomous choices are taken away from us - it can increase stress and anxiety. We feel disempowered. Anxiety at a time like this, during this pandemic, is not unusual at all. There is constant news about job losses, industries being hit and so on.
What was the norm has been taken away from us all. Charities such as OCD UK are reporting a huge increase in calls for support. David Crepaz-Keay, from the Mental Health Foundation, has also stated that panic attacks may also be a response to the coronavirus outbreak as a result of excessive worrying (The Guardian March 2020).
Take notice of your emotions - One thing you can do is to deliberately sit and reflect on your own personal insights into how you are feeling if stress, anxiety, overwhelm or similar emotions kick in. Do this before you embark on a career change. This might seem counter-productive and even uncomfortable to begin with, but it allows you the space to learn what is going on for you. If you are ready and committed, this information can then lead to action to manage those emotions. You control this. Ignoring or suppressing emotions is not considered healthy but accepting the emotions and then acting to manage them better is. When you manage these emotions, your outlook can be more positive, and therefore, more effective. It helps to see the opportunities more rationally and calmly.
At present, we cannot control COVID-19 but what can you control? Maintain focus on this. Once you are able to focus on the positives using the techniques outlined above, you can start to make choices about your career. Career coaching can help you to clear the way and guide you through the choices ahead.