We are all currently adapting and reorienting ourselves in the chaos caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic. All around us we see the evidence of and are experiencing the fall out, not only in terms of the health and mental health impacts, and the geopolitical and economic impacts, but also the career/job/employment impacts that this situation is having on us. Even for those of us whose jobs, projects and plans are still intact or just delayed, we are all impacted by the uncertainty and instability that this situation is causing. None of us are certain how things will evolve.
Regardless of our particular situation and job/employment status (still employed or not, still with business and clients or not, still proceeding with our original career plan or not) this situation, as with other unexpected hurdles or challenges thrown in our path, has provoked in many of us a need to reevaluate our career situation and consider whether we need to come up with a new plan.
For some, this need to reevaluate and come up with a new plan is born out of necessity (for example you’ve just lost your job or several work contracts, or the sector you are working in or were thinking of moving into is declining fast). For others it’s because the uncertainties caused by the extreme VUCA conditions we are living in is compelling us to come up with contingency plans since things may not go as we expected. And some of us have learned things about ourselves in this crisis, and this new knowledge or learning feels important enough to integrate them into our future plans. And there’s still another group who are reevaluating their plans and coming up with new ones because they see the opportunities in the shifts and changes taking place in the world during this crisis, and want to take advantage of them (the hot new sectors which are emerging and likely to do well in the future, or skill sets and niches which are going to be in big demand).
My clients and the people in my circle fall into each of these categories, and some of them fall into several of them at the same time (some ambitious people aren’t satisfied with just fixing the immediate problem…they’re going to consider and plan for everything!). In talking to them and helping them think through the various issues to consider in making their plans, I found that I often asked very similar questions, and generally in the same order, regardless of their particular situation. There is nothing earth shattering or innovative about these questions. But whether they were freelancers or business owners, employees of small or large companies, had plans and career moves postponed, or were recently laid off or already unemployed for a while, they all seemed to be helped by the framework that these questions provided in guiding their thinking and coming up with their plan of action moving forward.
So now I’m sharing these questions with you, in case they may help you too, to think through your situation and, as you ask yourself each question, gain clarity on a way forward for yourself.
Question 1: What was your objective/plan before this hurdle? (in this case, the disruption caused by Covid-19)
Question 2: How do you feel about this objective/plan now?
- How committed are you to the initial objective, or have your thoughts shifted in light of the current situation?
- How does the current situation change things?
- If still committed to the initial objective, do you need to consider shifting time frames for actions? Or shifting your approach?
- If uncertain about or not staying with initial objective, why? Is it a shift in the external environment? Have your priorities changed? Do you need more information?
Question 3: What gaps have emerged in your objective/plan from this crisis?
- What are the weaknesses that this crisis is showing you about your plan?
- About your sector/industry
- About your function/profession
- About your skills or readiness
- About your plan’s resilience and adaptability to changing external factors
- About your real commitment or interest in your objective
- About your desired geographical area
- Where do you need to reevaluate, prepare more, develop more, learn more?
- What are the emerging trends where you may need to develop your capabilities?
Question 4: What opportunities are emerging from this crisis where you could fit in or contribute?
- What are the emerging “hot” sectors? Where could you get in more easily? Which sectors, locations could use someone with your skill set? Which sectors interest you?
- What skills/services will be growing in demand? How can you contribute or get in on that trend? Where are you strong?
- How might you exploit the new expanded virtual way of working and doing business/remote working/global marketplace?
- What do you have to offer in the new “world order”?
Question 5: What are you learning about yourself that you should consider in your plans for the future?
- What’s most important to you?
- What has been helping you to stay balanced and sane during this crazy time? What has been helping you to energize and recharge? To lower stress?
- What do you need in order to feel well mentally, emotionally, and physically?
- How can you incorporate these learnings into your plans to keep you well and running smoothly?
Question 6: Now it’s time to synthesize everything. Based on your answers to Questions 1 through 5, what’s your plan moving forward? Map out actions, timelines, and incorporate uncertainties and contingencies in case there are other unexpected hurdles ahead!