Your career and life journey is inherently unique, because, as Joni Carswell, CEO of Texan By Nature said, “you have the single unique way of looking at a puzzle that no one else does … Use those different ways that you’ve seen the world to solve problems.”
During this crisis time when we are staying home and have more alone time, it’s a great time to step back from our normal daily routines and re-evaluate our own careers and plan going forward. As Carswell suggested, “Look out at your path, at your history and the things that you think don’t have anything to do with one another, and use those things to innovate in your space.”
Here are 10 tips for maximizing this time in pandemic shutdown – or any time you can take a broader view of your life, career journey and choices:
1. Understand what drives you: What do you want to achieve? Make a lot of money? A certain status? Influence? Create change? This steers your decisions unconsciously today, so be honest about it, examine it and own it.
2. Describe your accomplishments: What did you do and what was the result? What are the highlights and metrics that fit how you want to be seen and known, or what you want in your work.
3. Discover what these accomplishments reflect that you’re good at: Break them down to the skills and talents you showed. For example, are you good at generating leads or closing sales? Building a community? Managing people? Staying on budget? Building an IT network?
4. Name what you’re feeling about your work in this crisis: Do you like it more, or less? Are you frustrated working remotely, or do you prefer it? Why? Do you miss the camaraderie of your office? Is it easier to manage certain people? Do you feel “out of the loop”? What else?
5. Identify “stretch” roles: What would stretch you professionally? If you could design your ideal role, without thinking about what you can do now, what would it be?
6. Expand your skills: We can all get better at something professionally. What would prepare you best for your next goal? What training can you get now to fill skills gaps? Webinars, courses and resources abound online.
7. Plan your next career phase, job or move: Where do you want to be in 3 years? How has this crisis changed your plans? What do you need to get there? More training? Financial planning? Revising your resume? Building your personal brand? Who do you need to know to get there?
Maria Blasé, Division President of Ingersoll Rand told me, “It doesn’t have to look a certain way, it doesn’t have to look like the traditional career…So, giving yourself that break, you are much more likely to be able to maneuver whatever is going on in your professional as well as your personal life.”
8. Think out of your own box: As Michelle Wyman, Executive Director of global nonprofit NCSE, said on my podcast, “Stay very clearly focused on remembering not to get boxed in. Not to stay in your lane….There may be ways to step outside that lane, there may be complete pivot points where you can go in a totally different direction” at any age or career stage.
9. Listen to your self-talk: As you spend more time alone in this crisis, notice your thoughts. What are you telling yourself about your abilities, career, resources and future? What we tell ourselves drives all our choices, consciously or unconsciously so be your own best friend. And, sometimes, we just need to take a long walk, bake bread, listen to comedy podcasts, or binge watch our favorite TV shows or movies.
10. Ask “what more can I do?”: Washington Post economics reporter Heather Long gave great career advice to ask yourself this question. Run for office, serve on boards, do tutoring or start a nonprofit or new business, for example.