How much can change in one week? A lot. Especially if you are changing careers during a pandemic. The situation is scary, and I feel the pull to give in to fear and just veg in front of my computer streaming movies until it all goes away. But I know better.
I used to be a very different person. I grew up constantly afraid, so I compensated by alternating between trying to control everything and feeling helpless in the face of adversity. It took me over a decade (and moving far away from home) to begin to heal from my upbringing. A global pandemic is definitely triggering, but I have learned powerful lessons that have deeply changed me. Here are a few you might find helpful today:
- There isn't an ideal reality that is supposed to happen. This is it. Feeling that your life would be fine if things happened as they were meant to be instead of as the way they are is a trap. We need to face what is in front of us with love, courage and compassion.
- What is happening is just what is happening - it doesn't mean there is something wrong with you or with your life or with what you chose until now. Do not make it personal. It isn't, even if it hurts.
- Whatever you feel is OK. You are not supposed to be stronger, smarter, more qualified, more positive, etc. This is the time to love yourself more than ever. Exactly as you are. Right now. Love yourself for not being able to love yourself. Now.
- Hindsight is 20/20. And mostly useless. Cancel immediately anyone who judges you for not having enough savings, or for choosing a degree that is now unhelpful, etc. You did the best you could at the moment. You are not psychic, are you? Judging you for what you should have done in the past is a very convenient way to blame instead of helping you. The same goes with your inner critic who might now be talking to you non stop about your lack of foresight, preparation, etc. Tell your inner critic to fuck off.
- If a thought comes up about how you made a mistake, bless yourself. And give yourself a lot of love. You are human, of course you make mistakes. And that's OK.
- Nothing lasts forever, everything changes. You might need to mourn a dream or give up on plans now delayed or canceled. It's OK. The more you can accept that change is part of life, and let yourself feel your feelings about it, the easier it will be to be flexible and adapt. Everything changes. Including the present situation.
- If you can take action, from self care to updating your resume', from giving back to feeling gratitude for what you have, you will end up better in the long run. This is temporary. You might not go back to the exact same life you had before, but we will not be in a global epidemic forever. It helps to keep things in perspective. Engage with the present and keep your mind on your long term goals.
- You are one person and statistics are about millions. It's important to keep the big picture in mind while also staying rooted in your present situation: you individually might be completely fine and soon have a lot more opportunities than you think. It's OK to feel OK and to know that you have the resources and ability to move forward.
So what if you are changing careers during a pandemic? What is the best way to approach today's situation? Here are some ideas on how to best navigate today's uncertain times as a career changer:
If you have a stable job but you would like to do something else
- A feeling of "enough" is a much better place from where to change careers than feeling resentful about your current situation: cultivate a feeling of being enough and having enough right at this moment. This includes feeling grateful for having the choice to stay at your current position.
- Support your coworkers and your team. Everyone is having a tough time right now, and you might be able to temporarily feel better at work by being more empathetic and taking on the qualities of a servant leader, no matter your position
- Choose to forget about changing careers during a pandemic. Instead spend time with your children and/or partner
- Spend some time getting to know yourself - journal, meditate, read those books you always wanted to read
- Give back: many, many people just lost their income and don't have enough to pay the bills. Help out friends and family if you can. Offer to buy groceries for older people you know who shouldn't risk going out. Support local businesses by buying gift cards or by ordering from them online.
- If you haven't done the work yet, take a few weeks to explore what you might like to do next with no pressure to go and pursue it right away. Do all the research you need in order to choose what to pursue next
- Build new relationships and/or deepen existing ones, online
- Research companies and organizations you would like to eventually work for
- Research business ideas, learn new skills
- Start that online side hustle you always wanted to start
- Some companies might still be hiring (just today I received 3 emails with notices of organizations hiring, for example). Even though many businesses are being hit hard, you might personally find an opportunity you like. Engage with what is in front of you, based on your skills, industry and profession.
If you just changed careers and recently started a business
I started isolating just a few days ago, and it's already affecting me, even though I am an introvert who already works from home! The constant stream of concerning news, social distancing, and spending all day at home can bring about or exacerbate feelings of loneliness, sadness and even depression. It is imperative you prioritize taking care of your wellbeing. Not only feeling down will make it harder to cope with the current situation, but it might impact your immune system.
As a new or small business owner you were probably already struggling to have a good routine, find new clients and bring in consistent revenue, what now? Here are some ideas to deal with the next few weeks if you are in the middle of changing careers during a pandemic:
- Don't give into despair - remember this too shall pass
- Do the work: as a business owner you probably have a long list of things you want to do and never get to. This is your chance to get it done!
- Take good care of yourself. You don't have to be as productive as usual. You can choose to slow down and recover from too much work, do some creative thinking, relax, spend time with your family, take a few days off
- Connect with other business owners and freelancers online. You don't have to go it alone. You can invite business owners you know or new connections to join you for a "virtual coworking" time on Zoom once or twice a week.
- Research, design, brainstorm new ideas for your business
- Keep doing your best work for your clients
- Depending on your field and industry, there might still be plenty of need for your services. Engage with what is, not what you wish it was or what you are afraid it might be
- Feel gratitude for all you already have. Appreciate everyone in your life.
If you were already unemployed or just lost your job
I know it's really tough. I wish I had a magic solution for this, but unfortunately we are in such uncertain times, it is hard to know what will happen next. What I always found most important in life is to stay close (in this case virtually) to the best, kindest, most honest people I know. If you feel bad about receiving help, or reaching out, I invite you to take this moment as an invitation to open up to receive. We are all interconnected and we cannot do it alone ♥
- Some states and cities are already moving to provide relief to people who are unemployed, have to work less or are sick because of Covid-19. Check if you are eligible for relief, here's a link to what is available in California, for example. If you want to, share links to resources in your area in the comments.
- Remember you are not your job. You are a wonderful, unique, worthy individual regardless of your income, employment status or amount of wealth.
- Try to bring in some income. Start with who you know: ask your friends and family if they have or know of opportunities to make some money (without risking your or anyone's health)
- If you find yourself out of work all of a sudden or unable to secure work in your profession, you might have to try changing careers during a pandemic. At least temporarily. Do not feel you need to make a life-long decision right now. We are in truly uncharted territory and we don't know how things will be in a few weeks. Be super flexible and open to whatever comes your way.
- Go for what is easiest to get. Everybody takes a detour sometimes, don't add extra meaning to it. You will be in a stronger position to change careers if you are not panicking about money. The current situation won't last forever
- Some companies and organizations are still hiring, do not give up on yourself - go for what you want. The worse that can happen is someone will say No. Or they won't get back to you
- It might be time to start that blog or online business idea you had for a long time, or to learn a new skill. There are a number of people who started a project out of losing their job or during long unemployment spells who then were able to leverage it in a small business or proof of their abilities to eventually get a job. So don't give in to fear. Take care of yourself and use this time to take action. This too shall pass.
- Join local organizations that are active in pushing for legislation to protect and support people who are struggling. The biggest problem with most self development advice is that it is always about, well, the self. This is not just your problem. We need as a society to care for each other. So join forces with others to fight for your and other people's rights to have food, shelter, healthcare and opportunities. You are not alone.
If you would like a space to connect and share your feelings, ideas, helpful resources, and experience solidarity with others who are changing careers during a pandemic, join me for a special online event on March 25th. I will be hosting a special online gathering at two different times to accomodate different time zones. All details here.