The economic uncertainty, political instability and all-round sense of catastrophe in many people’s lives in the era of Covid-19 is extreme, to say the least! Employees in every sector and in every role are experiencing strain, whether that’s juggling shifting expectations, navigating risks and unknowns, or simply trying to define a solid career path in a landscape that seems to shift daily. Though recent challenges are certainly not easy, there are always smart ways to face adversity and chaos – and perhaps even emerge a little stronger for it. Here are 5 ways to survive rapid changes in your career.
Go easy on yourself
Job insecurity can be hard on anyone. In a society that places enormous value on job titles, and with many people deriving identity and self-worth from their work, it can be devastating to be retrenched, furloughed or put on hold. According to Arctic Shores, “It seems that change is the only constant at the minute. If you’re finding yourself taking stock at regular intervals (perhaps unwittingly staring into space all the while), you’re definitely not alone. Every day seems to bring some new shock to the social, financial or physical system.”
The important thing is to avoid self-blame, or becoming impatient with yourself if you’re not coping well with the changes. Take a moment to appreciate the enormity of the disruption, and try a little self-compassion as you consider your options.
Practice agile thinking
The world is changing, and we along with it. From a survival perspective, those who are best able to comprehend any emerging set of circumstances and respond with new, adaptive behaviours will be better off. Being agile and resilient is first and foremost a state of mind. It’s the ability to let go of old attitudes, ideas, beliefs and expectations that are simply no longer useful. It can be a little scary to relinquish a way of being we’ve grown accustomed to, but clinging to the past can ironically make change more difficult. Start small by regularly asking yourself, “is this working? What would work better here?” and suspend judgment as your mind comes up with fresh, novel solutions.
Look for opportunities
Understandably, there’s been plenty of fear and pessimism in recent months. It’s easy to get distracted by doom-and-gloom narratives that shut down the ability to imagine solutions. But sometimes the best way to adapt to change is to view it with a completely different perspective. “One door closes, and another opens” as the adage goes.
If you’re finding yourself stressed and overwhelmed, it may be helpful to gently turn your attention away from what has been lost or disrupted, and onto new and unexpected opportunities that have emerged. In what ways is your current situation actually an improvement? Strange and uncertain times can be more bearable when we realise that they’re also potential times of great change and improvement. With the right mindset, chaos can become diversity, and lack of certainty can become freedom and flexibility. It’s all about using what you have, where you are right now.
Trust your capabilities
You might find yourself taking on roles you never imagined, working in new and uncomfortable ways, or finding yourself staring down the path of an entirely new career. It will help enormously to have belief in your own worth and ability to learn. Nobody can quite predict the economic situation going forward, and for many there are countless uncertainties. But we can always trust ourselves and our innate ability to learn and adapt, no matter the changing circumstances.
Now might be the time to regularly remind yourself of your talents – the best of which could simply be a willingness to try new things. Be patient with yourself when it comes to using new technology, encountering new clients or situations, or facing the job-hunting process from scratch. Adaptation takes time!
Understand that change is a process
Those who are best able to survive in turbulent and rapidly changing environments are those who have given themselves permission to make mistakes and try again. Making any career transition is seldom going to be smooth. It’ perfectly OK to feel a little unsettled, ungrounded or unsure of yourself. But we can all embrace the change and understand that adjusting takes time.
The tools and habits that worked yesterday may not work anymore – you took a while to learn them, so give yourself some time to unlearn them! Change is always a little frightening, but it’s not change itself that determines our success or failure, but rather our conscious, intelligent response to it.