5 Practical Ways To Reinvent Your Career In Uncertain Times

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5 Practical Ways To Reinvent Your Career In Uncertain Times
5 Practical Ways To Reinvent Your Career In Uncertain Times

The pandemic has caused individuals, families and nations a lot. The accompanying lock-down together with social distancing has also led to layoffs in many organizations and also resulted to recessions in nations. Workers are overnight without any work of means of income and it is very difficult to get an alternate work in these difficult times.

“When something bad happens, you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.” – Dr. Seuss

During uncertain times, we become shortsighted and focus on our most urgent decisions such as the need for continuous survival which can make us very much overwhelmed. Thus, it becomes hard to find motivation, mental energy and time to think about long term questions of the goals and dreams we desire to achieve in our lifetime. 

Recall the words of Brian Adams “Difficulties are opportunities to better things; they are stepping-stones to greater experience… When one door closes, another one always opens; as a natural law it has to, to balance.”

In spite the difficulties; these are the best time to plan for the future. To help you turn difficult times into opportunities, here are some practical tips anyone can leverage on during difficult times to reinvent their strategy

1. Explore a range of options – including the unthinkable.

Explore a range of options – including the unthinkable.

Anything can happen in uncertain time. “The future is uncertain… but this uncertainty is at the very heart of human creativity” – Ilya Prigogine.

Always consider every possibility including the worst case scenario. If it seems very intimidating make actionable plans to make them less intimidating. This will enable you to think through the problem and find solutions to overcome it. 

That is to say, if you are looking for work or you already have one, plan for a scenario in which you may be unemployed for twice as long or that your family would be without income for some time. Though it may never happen, making actionable plans for the worst is the best preparation you can make so that you are not in a bad position if such an event happens.

2. Imagine the best possible future

Imagine the best possible future

Strategic planning isn’t just about imagining the worst possible outcomes. Equally important is considering ideas and opportunities that might never have occurred to you before. Challenge the assumptions you are making about yourself — things like “I’ve never tried that type of work before, so I wouldn’t be a good candidate” or “I’m just not cut out for managerial responsibilities.” Think about different ways you could leverage your skills and fulfill your passions, both at work and in other aspects of your life. The more you’ve thought through your options, the better prepared you’ll be to act when an opportunity arises.

Thinking about the best case scenario can be much harder than thinking about the worst case scenario. Here are some few suggestions to help out;

  • Think about your most difficult moments in work and how you overcame them. This could indicate a skill that you could build upon.
  • Construct a personal highlights list to help you remember the moments when you were at your best. The patterns you discover can serve as clues. If you’ve consistently enjoyed providing counsels to colleagues, for instance, you might consider how to develop new skills around coaching or look for ways to make it a larger part of your professional life.
  • To understand what you value, think of how you spend your free time. This could indicate some skills that you can develop and share.
  • Go beyond your industry and explore new areas and new trends.  A months ago a friend noticed that interest in Cloud computing was rapidly growing. Although he lacked formal experience in the field, he applied for and soon landed a role in a new innovation unit focused on developing and implementing cloud technologies.

3. Build Capabilities relevant to your future self

Build Capabilities relevant to your future self

In normal times, it’s typical to first identify a job you’d like to have and then work to acquire the skills needed to land it. But in periods of extreme uncertainty, that can be a risky approach, because the company/organization or even the sector you’re focused on may face unexpected disruptions.

It best suggested taking a “skills first” approach instead: Identify the skills you’ll need to cultivate in order to grow toward your broad personal and professional goals, and then determine which jobs might be a good fit.  Example, you want to commit to becoming a business developer. To pursue that high-level goal, you have to be determined to improve your communication skills, ability to negotiate and spot viable business opportunities in the market.

To identify and develop new skills, the following strategies are recommended;

  • Find opportunities to practice new skills in your current role. 
  • Explore online programs and courses. It will help boost your confidence and avoid rookie mistakes.
  • Reach out to people you can learn from through informal learning advises and formal coaching. Your network is your best educational resource — and the people in it might also be in a position to advocate for you in the future as they become aware of your growing skill set. 

4. Start small – breaking big tasks into more-manageable sub-tasks

Break big tasks into more-manageable sub-tasks

To move past the paralysis of uncertainty, focus on what you can change in the short term. If your task seems so big and intimidating, break them into more-manageable sub-tasks.  For instance, writing a book might seem overwhelming, but drafting the table of content can be a starting point.

If you’re not sure what to prioritize, start with some “no regret” moves — actions that will be helpful regardless of changing circumstances — such as brushing up your résumé or updating your social media profile. Finally, ask yourself, “What small move could I make today that would bring me closer to my goal?” or “What could I accomplish if I gave myself a week?”

A business developer was contemplating a career move, but after years of focusing exclusively on the day-to-day tasks of his job, he found the prospect of rebuilding his skills and network somewhat daunting. As a first, step, he decided to set up five calls every week with people in his network (university friends, previous customers, and people he knew socially) to catch up on news in their various industries and learn more about different roles and organizations. After a few months, some of those people started sending him job openings they thought would be relevant — and he eventually landed one of them.

5. Be ruthless in what you want to leave behind and never be afraid of failure

Be ruthless in what you want to leave behind and never be afraid of failure

Planning for an uncertain future isn’t just about arming yourself with new skills or making new connections. It’s also about making strategic choices concerning what — and who — to abandon. It may be hard to give up things in which you’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and energy. And it’s easy to be nostalgic about the past, especially when facing uncertainty in the present. But moving forward means taking a clear-eyed view of what’s no longer serving you and giving yourself the space to pursue something new.

A female leader had always envisioned herself in a portfolio career, one that would include serving on a corporate board. She realized she was not on track to achieve that goal because she chronically overfilled her calendar with work and volunteer obligations. Once she understood the opportunity cost of her current schedule, she began delegating more responsibilities. She created plans, developed a script for turning down requests and more assertively saying “no,” and practiced such delicate conversations. Once she had eliminated the unnecessary responsibilities that were weighing her down, she had a lot more time and headspace for exploring director opportunities.

As human we are wired to avoid uncertainty — but no matter how hard you try, there’s no escaping it. Instead, it’s best to view uncertainty as an opportunity for growth, whether that means exploring new skills, a new job, or an entirely new career. There are no easy answers, but with the strategies described above, you’ll have the tools to deal with whatever the future might bring.

Remember, failing is normal, especially when we’re trying out something new. When you fail, simply recognize it, learn from it, and move on.

For failure, in the end, is the best way to learn what does and doesn’t work, and you simply won’t be able to learn how to reinvent yourself if you don’t accept the inevitable failures that await you.

Did the post help you with practical ways to reinvent your career? If yes or no, Kindly share your thoughts on the comment section.

Credit:

David Lancefield and Dorie Clark

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