The COVID Career stall

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After reading this article from Gwen Morgan over at Fast Company it really resontated and not just with because the world is upside down with COVID right now. Most companies are bipolar at best, from one quarter to the next going from plenty to famine where budgets are slashed and frozen.

The common denominator right now is the Rona has all companies on the same famine cycle. Hiring is frozen, promotions and raises on the backburner for the foreseeable future and the outlook is generally bleak. IM talk is of impeding restructures, and cost-saving measures with headcount reductions. This is all to say if you’ve not allready been furloughed or laid-off….

Back to the main topic though. The idea that companies invest in development, training and progression is long gone, or at least severely limited. The policy and practice shift occurred ten years ago it’s not a recent thing. Most companies talk a big game about people being their biggest assets, but the reality in practice is people are resources. Your success ultimately is in your hands. The only person responsible for your career development is you. You need to continually update and improve your skills and identify job opportunities and career paths, and you should build job-hunting and career-planning skills.

This all sounds really harsh and I’m being a Debbie downer. Yes, I know.

So What now?

A recent little post from Seth Godin about the relativity of time. He puts it quite succinctly where ‘experience of time relates to engagement, fear, opportunity and the culture’. With everything that’s going on in the world, being engaged, meaning you’re energized, focused, and motivated to do better is difficult. That’s understandable. I’ve had that same discussion with my partner a few times over the last 6 months. This is hard.

One of the best books I’ve ever read about motivation and goal setting to keep on track is The Motivational Myth by Jeff Haden. Motivation is a process, its structured and its iterative. Staying motivated means not missing the trees for the forrest. The practical steps as it were about how you would fit that elephant into the fridge. It’s worth having a look and building your competence in this soft-skills area.

One of the key takeaways that you get from Jeff is that once you have the practical steps and planning down, the intrinsic reward you get from accomplishing the iterative milestones towards you’re end goal keeps motivation and just kinda happen. While we are all stuck at home, in the surreal new normal, in our routines of waking up, eating, working at something, eating, sleeping and repeating. This is a skill that keeps you sane.

You want to do what now?

You’ve hopefully had a read and come away with the myth of motivation dispelled! Through that process you would have checked-in with yourself and had to ask yourself some hard questions. Over the last months I’ve had many conversations with colleagues, friends and family around how they’ve had to reevalute their priorities or come to some conclusions they didn’t think they would have.

We started this article with your career development, needing to update and improve skills and identify job opportunities and career paths. For many we would have derailed totally. The process of asking yourself hard questions, and honestly answering them would have identified for you that the lack of fulfillment, enjoyment and overall satisfaction won’t get fixed by a promotion. That’s okay. For others it will have cemented their commitment and provided them the building blocks of how to achieve their goals. That’s also okay.

In both situations understanding, and having reaffirmed your motivation, what gets you engaged is the point. Expanding effort getting halfway towards a goal you thought you wanted and needing to realign is a waste of time and effort.

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