Carving a Purposeful Career in Uncertain Times

Carving a Purposeful Career in Uncertain Times

So many facets of our lives have been impacted in this ever-changing world in which we live. Commodities are being purchased online more now than ever before. Technology continues to dominate the way we meet with new possibilities from Zoom, Teams and other platforms. The hospitality industry like hotels, restaurants, convention centers operate differently than two years ago.  Businesses have had to revise where people work, alternate ways to stay solvent with interrupted supply chains, how to conduct business remotely and how to serve customers as seamlessly as possible. The educational field at all levels continues to grapple with new ways to learn and to make necessary adjustments for the safety of students, educators, staff, families.

Preparing for the future means looking at our habits and lives anew, and making accommodations for inevitable change. More than ever, we must “go with the flow” and no longer can we depend on expectations that were taken for granted in the past. There were certain perks that came with working in many industries such as 401K programs for employee savings and investment, guaranteed vacation time, access to company sponsored amenities such as paid health care, wellness programs, parking lot shuttle service, discounted gym membership, and retirement benefits.

In recent years, more responsibility is placed squarely on the shoulders of guess who..YOU!

So how does one move forward when the only thing you can count on is YOURSELF and you’re not sure what to do or where to turn?

Ask yourself “What matters most to me?” Once you compile that list which may include family members, friends, pets, staying where I currently reside, maintaining my current lifestyle, build from there. Look at a month of your life and determine how much will it cost for you to maintain the lifestyle to which you are accustomed.  This basic budget will provide the first clue about the realistic answer to how you should proceed.

If I’m in a certain career field, should I continue there?   Will jobs like the one I had be available to me down the line? On the other hand, should I change jobs to be more aligned to my interests?

Or, if my job is likely to disappear for unforeseen, varied reasons, should I jump ship now?

Conventional wisdom advises to never leave a job until you have another one lined up. With that in mind, another option is to keep your job now, and at the same time, think ahead to future possibilities. When it comes to the safety of your current job, look for clues that could be all around you.

Ask yourself if any of these concerns are true where you work: You feel or hear:

  • Rumors about a merger, acquisition, downsizing or relocation
  • Concerns about the financial stability of the company
  • Hall talk about potential furloughs, layoffs
  • News of potential offers to encourage relocation or retirement
  • That certain meetings/projects are held and you aren’t invited
  • Evaluations/reviews are less personal and more critical
  • Shortcomings are pointed out now
  • Social events are less frequent
  • Peers and managers are avoiding you
  • Others with less skill are getting promoted
  • Your questions go unanswered

If you notice any or some of the above, continue providing professionalism and value on the job and simultaneously be true to yourself.  It may be your fears aren’t reality. Just in case, be ready for a career pivot by following these three steps.

  1. Ask yourself What areas interest you that align with your values? Give yourself a specific timeline to create an answer (an hour, one day, max three days).  Write it down; adhere to your deadline. Otherwise, procrastination may reign. When your contemplation period ends (or before), write your goal/ completion date so you readily see what you want to make happen and by when.Example: I don’t want to work for anyone or have a boss in my future. I’d like to explore transferring my skills in education/facilitation/subject matter expertise to a purpose-driven entrepreneurial option by the end of the calendar year.
  2. List steps to make that happen. Example:
    Make a comprehensive list of value you bring to next opportunities. Educational preparation, subject matter expertise, certifications, training, business experience. published work, experience with different generations in the workplace, acquaintances who work in those fields.Note weak areas. Identify concrete ways to strengthen shortcomings (Ex. Take a course, join/attend Toastmasters meetings, write a blog).Launch a plan to work on areas to improve (include target dates)Connect with individuals who work in the field; seek advice to getting started; tips they suggest; what to read; how to prepare; social media do’s and don’ts, who to follow online, blogs to reach, people to meet.List and contact community resources who can help: reference librarian, local networking groups, Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, Dept. of LaborExpand your network; offer your services to speak at monthly meetings
  3. Create a prioritized flexible, robust, action plan to reach your goal. Example:
    Keep my current job; use discretionary time to explore a new career (weekly devote 5 research hours)Take a course to bolster weak points. Explore institutions; enroll ASAPGet certification(s), training, upgrade skills where needed,Read daily to expand expertise and stories from the fieldWrite a weekly or monthly blogConduct ongoing interviews to gather information from successful individuals in the fieldAttend local events, national forums/symposiums to learn, network, extend your reach (attend one local event a month; three national conferences a year (virtual).Build and expand your personal brand so people know the current “you”

This three-prong strategy takes dedication and regular attention to your goal.  If adhered to diligently, the rewards are beyond worthwhile.  You’ll be living your purpose and enjoying peace of mind. Get started and make your list…what truly interests you