If there is one word that can encapsulate the last 15 months of our lives, it is uncertainty.
Everything that we knew to be normal in the past 10-20 years was completely taken and turned on its head. We used to all work in offices and travel to see clients, customers, and colleagues.
Now, in 2021, we are all talking virtually and trying to stay motivated working from our couch or kitchen table.
All this change has more than an outward effect. It also affects us on the inside and changes who we are.
- What has been the biggest change in you since the pandemic started?
- Are you less or more satisfied in your career?
- Do you feel like you are still doing something interesting and challenging?
- Do you feel the same level of confidence in the company or team you work with?
If you’re like most people, you have likely done some soul-searching and maybe even want to make some big changes.
Economists are calling it “the Great Resignation”. A recent study by Microsoft’s Work Trend Index showed that 41% of those surveyed said they are considering leaving their jobs. On top of this, a recent McKinsey report estimated that between 400 million and 800 million individuals could be displaced by automation and need to find new jobs by 2030.
But how do you plan your career when the world is still uncertain?
How do you grow your career in times of great uncertainty?
Speaking for myself, I experienced this desire for change first-hand during the past year.
Just like for many others, Covid and lockdown made me question what’s really important for me. It helped to highlight my superpowers: what comes naturally to me that I love doing.
I moved from full-time Head of Solutions (+ coaching business on the side) to freelance Product and Instructional Designer in May this year. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right one for me.
Over the past year, I realized my priorities were shifting towards well being and doing more with less.
As a Type A personality with an obsession with learning, I was completing a Masters, managing a demanding full time job, and multiple other courses. On top of all this, I wanted to start a family at 40. It was too much all at once and something had to give – as they say, “you can have it all, but not all at once”.
During this time, I realised I had a talent for designing products and programmes and I wanted to amplify these.
So I made the decision to go solo and see where it would lead. It’s not a decision I would advise making lightly. For me, I was lucky to have a great network and a strong pipeline of work from the get-go. I landed on my feet, and am grateful that I took the risk. Working less, on a freelance basis, was what I needed to thrive.
If you are wanting to develop your career in the current environment – whether it’s a small change or a big one – I have created a model that can hopefully help you too.
Time To Get Out Of The Bunker
Many people during the pandemic have been in ‘bunker’ mode: just doing what is necessary to survive until things return to normal.
As things begin to open up again, people who are feeling disengaged, or let down by their company during Covid are starting to plan their next move either internally or externally.
If this is you, here are some steps you can take to prepare the groundwork for change.
Step One: Learn From Experience
Consider for yourself what the past 18 months or so has taught you.
Have you seen that you are not fulfilled in the type of work you are doing?
Are you wanting to explore something that is more in line with your talents?
Perhaps you are realizing (like a lot of people) that they have outgrown their current role or company, and need to look at new options. Wherever you are, it’s important to learn from your experience.
Remember that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. You have to learn what isn’t working, and figure out what changes you want to make.
Step Two: Imagine Success
Nothing great is ever achieved without clarity and focus. If you can clearly see the kind of career you’d like to have (or create) then you can begin taking steps towards it.
It’s important to believe that you can proactively change your career. Many people get stuck in a certain industry or role because they believe they are powerless to change. The reality is that those who can imagine a better future for themselves are the ones who can create it.
Even if your career vision or target role is fuzzy, you can focus on how you’d like to feel, what you’d like to be doing each day and the kind of people you’d like to work with.
This brings me to Career Cornerstones – a powerful framework for building a positive upward spiral in your career. When you start to take action, the clarity and focus will come.
Step Three: Build Your Career Cornerstones
Over the years of working inside organizations myself, as well as helping other people to get clarity, I have discovered that there are several ‘Career Cornerstones’ that we all need to focus on. Once we understand them, we can use this knowledge to our advantage to build a successful career.
The good thing about these Career Cornerstones is that they are constant – you can rely on them no matter how much change or uncertainty is happening in the outside world.
Here are the four Career Cornerstones:
- Skills – your unique talents and strengths (which I call superpowers), and your skills gaps.
- Identity – who you need to be to achieve your goal
- Habits – what we need to do every day to achieve your goal
- Network and team – the people who will support you in getting there
All four of these elements can have an augmenting effect on each other.
If you define who you need to be to get to where you need to be, you become that person when you take action every day to align with that.
For example, if you want to be a senior leader, you might stop trying to do everything yourself, and focus on building an effective team around you to get the job done. A habit to support that could be that whenever a task comes to you ask, “Who else could do this?”.
Similarly, if you know your unique talents and strengths, you can shape your career around them by looking for opportunities to apply them in whatever role you are in and making them part of your personal brand or identity.
If you’re clear on the gaps that you have to get to your dream role, say for instance influencing C-Suite executives, you could find someone who is great at that and ask how they do it.
(Note: There is a lot to learn about these areas, and I run a full training around these career cornerstones, so if you’d like to do a deeper dive on them, you can reach out to me and I can share more information with you.)
A Career Crisis Or Opportunity?
While can all experience the fear of uncertainty during these times, it’s also worth remembering that it can be a time to find new opportunities.
The results you achieve depend on how you frame the situation and what you look for. If you have the tools available, or access to a support team or coach, you’ll have an advantage during these challenging times.
As the world continues to shift and adapt, we must do the same. And now is a great time to reinvent yourself and move ahead in your career and your life.
About Louise Taylor
Over the past 15+ years, Louise has specialised in coaching, leadership development and culture change. She has designed and delivered over 100 successful leadership, team and culture development programmes for clients including Commonwealth Bank, Microsoft, Google, and Astra Zeneca. She is an ICF PCC credential coach, with extensive experience as a coach/facilitator for high potential leaders.
To find out about virtual career workshops for corporates or leadership and career coaching, please reach out to Louise via email@example.com
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• About Louise Taylor •
Louise is a Leadership & Career Coach who specialises in helping driven professionals to shape their dream careers and develop habits for peak performance and resilience.
Since 2009 Louise has coached over a hundred leaders with a focus on career transition and development, behavioural change, leadership, communication, influencing and managing emotions and stress. She has also coached leaders to design and launch coaching and consulting businesses.
Louise is an experienced and innovative Solutions Designer & Consultant, who has worked in this capacity for much of her career, gradually moving up into more senior roles.
Louise brings a wealth of experience designing and delivering talent and leadership programs in companies such as Microsoft, GE Money, Barclays, Inchcape, Boots, HSBC, Google, Yahoo!, AXA, Astra Zeneca, Commonwealth Bank, Babcock and Wesfarmers.
With coaching psychology training and a Graduate Certificate in Counselling, Louise has effective, evidence-based tools to access the root cause of behavioural change and results.
Louise is an International Coach Federation (ICF) PCC credential holder and has over 800 hours’ coaching experience. She can use tools such as Strengths Finder, Hogan, LSI, CCL and fuel50 Career Assessment tools to help her clients gain clarity and increase effectiveness.
Louise lives in London, UK with her partner Ian and their two cute pugs Mimi and Lola. She enjoys yoga, meditation and fitness, relaxing with friends and family, cooking, personal development and travel. Louise is passionate about languages and is fluent in French and German and speaks basic Spanish.