Creating career certainty

Most of us have had our work disrupted in some way during this year. For some, it’s been a wholesale upheaval, such as a redundancy, for others the adjustments have been more subtle. Additionally, many people have used this as a time of reflection and contemplation to examine what’s really important and the part their career might play in living a life more aligned with their values.

Although we have no real way of knowing what lies ahead, the reality is that most of us still need and want to work. How can we keep ourselves moving forward during such a challenging and uncertain time?

I’ve been percolating the mass of information coming at me from a variety of quarters and have also been drawing on the resources and processes I believe are most helpful.

Pay attention to the priorities

No matter how tough things might appear to be, you’ll find it hard to galvanise yourself to action to look for work or make a career change unless you are – at least to some extent – feeling good and functioning well. Attending to your resilience and wellbeing is always a great investment of your time and is particularly important during stressful and challenging times. If this isn’t something you’ve been prioritising up until now, create a new habit of looking after yourself.

To assist with developing your overall wellbeing, the model I most commonly use and recommend takes Martin Seligman’s PERMA as its basis:

  • P Positive emotion – feelings of happiness and satisfaction, pleasure, fun

  • E Engagement - our ability to be engaged or absorbed in something, maybe even “in flow”

  • R (positive) Relationships – relationships that encourage, support and nurture us, and those in which we do the same for other people

  • M Meaning – things that are relevant and meaningful TO YOU, and that may contribute to something bigger than yourself

  • A Accomplishment – gaining a sense of satisfaction from achieving something

On top of this we can also add other evidence-based elements:

  • V Vitality – eating well, sleeping well and moving our bodies

  • S Strengths - identifying what comes naturally to you and finding outlets to use it

  • G Gratitude – being appreciative and grateful

  • M Mindfulness - being aware and present in the moment

What do you currently do that gives you these wellbeing benefits? How can you more consciously incorporate them into your life and work? You might like to focus on priorisiting one of these each week until it becomes an embedded habit.

Ride out the storm

You might believe that there’s nothing you can do right now but to wait things out, and that is certainly partly true, there’s a lot that’s not currently within our control. It can be tempting to ruminate (and maybe catastrophise) over possible scenarios, and with no clear exit point or resolution (how could there be, we’re not there yet and have no way of knowing how things will pan out) we can’t see those points through to completion. A certain amount of surrendering control could be the healthy way to go.

Can you challenge yourself to both accept the current uncertain status quo AND at the same time keep a weather eye facing towards and working to improve things for your future? Put your energy into what you can control and let the rest slide.

Assess current roles

Whilst waiting to see what happens further downstream, you can investigate and maybe move into roles that are currently available, such as those in in-demand industries. Putting food on the table and doing something useful fulfils our most pressing and practical needs and it also gives us a feeling of self-effica