Forced career change: how to think creatively about your future
Working life can be disturbed in many ways. Some are planned for disturbances; others are forced upon us. Either way, this ‘COVID-19’ pandemic has created a real workplace challenge for many of us. The impact I want to focus on in this article is from 'forced career change'.
You are now unemployed; out of work, with limited or no income. Feeling rejected or at least disappointed. What do you do? How do you think positively and creatively about your future when your emotional self is feeling raw?
The following steps may help you to stay focused and remain optimistic throughout this transition period in your life.
1. Become self-aware
- Listen to the self-talk in your mind - what are you saying to yourself?
- Listen to your language - how loud is the noise in your head?
- Notice the beliefs you are holding - about your life and about the future.
- Take any impossible thoughts or disappointments and reframe them into positive thoughts.
Use the 'STOP' technique
- Say out loud, ‘Stop, [your name], stop!
- Breathe, five long deep breaths.
- Ask, ‘what do I want right now?’.
Begin to notice the thoughts that surface. Become aware of things you are grateful for – relationships, family, friends, home, food etc.
Notice your beliefs about the future. Begin to think like a determined athlete training for significant competitions. If you read, get ‘The Chimp Paradox’ book by Steve Peters Pub: Ebury publishing. It will help you move from your emotions controlling your thoughts and actions to developing possibilities and robust thought processes.
2. Create your SHAPE document
The SHAPE of your life is a useful way of developing your story and understanding more about yourself. It also helps identify the language you can use to share with any recruiter.
Make notes on your answers to the following and you can always go back and refer to them:
S – Spiritual: your footprint
- What do you value about the workplace culture you would like to work in?
- Have you considered your life’s purpose?
- What is the legacy you will leave on the earth?
- Where is your faith focussed?
H – Heart: your heartbeat
- How do you describe your energy?
- Are you courageous, forthright, creative etc?
- What are your strengths? (‘Strengthscope’ is a good diagnostic process that can help you assess this - information can be found online).
A – Abilities: your toolbag
- List your skills and competencies gained throughout your life.
- Consider relevant professional and academic studies.
P – Personality: your personality
- How do you describe your personality?
- Have you completed any profile to describe yourself? E.g. a colours profile (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow?). Or another personality profile? There are several free versions on the internet. (MBTI - Myers Briggs is a popular company profile).
E – Experience: your life story
- List every job (paid or unpaid) that you have done. Don’t forget voluntary roles in society.
- Describe the story of your life. Think life stages – up to 18 years old or end of education, then 18-30, 30-40 etc.
3. Activate your opportunity radar
Now is the time to start considering your 'stage of life' and then scanning for opportunities.
Stage of life
Reflect on the priorities you live by today? Responsibilities for a family, a home, debts, future plans, ambitions, dreams etc. These all impact on our life choices.
What level of income do you need to survive/thrive? Be realistic. Can you cut out any unnecessary expenditure or costs? Be honest with yourself - carry out a financial wellbeing improvement checklist.
Can you retrain? Take voluntary work to build your experience profile? What other questions do you need to ask yourself to open more doors for opportunities?
There are lots of things you can do to make the process easier:
- Be open to any opportunity. Don’t just reject without full consideration. Create a folder of possibilities.
- Discuss with your coach/mentor or other supporters.
- Begin to develop your CV. You will find many examples on the internet.
- Practise a job interview. First, find someone who has recently had an interview and find out the types of questions they were asked. Research the internet again. Do find someone to act as an interviewer (not to criticise but to help you polish your skills).
- Keep scanning for opportunities. Ask around.
- Consider how far will you travel.
- Be resilient – bounce back from rejection.
It is so easy to let our minds and emotions sabotage our lives. Life can be tough at times and has both disappointments and triumphs. Find ways to develop your mental and emotional health. There are a number of local services you can turn to. If you're not sure where to go you can visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) or ask at your local library.
Think about who can support you, to help you see clearly and be non- judgemental. You might feel you need help to upskill your Job search and application skills. Perhaps you want support in preparing for an interview or to know what choices are available to you. This might include portfolio working (several smaller jobs); self-employment; starting up a business. This is where an experienced career coach/mentor can be invaluable.
Using steps 1,2,3 above, you'll have a framework to guide you through the obstacles of a forced career change - which could make it easier to stay focused and positive.
Consider calling a coach/mentor to find out how they can help you.