So, here’s the thing: some of my clients are in the unusual-for-them position of having no work right now. They’ve either been made redundant from their firms, are watching their businesses hit the skids, or are just generally less well employed than they’d really rather wish to be.
Their hearts tell them they’d love to buy in to the New Work Pioneer ethos.
But to a greater or lesser degree the fear of becoming the proverbial bag lady brings them back to doing what they know how to in this situation: get on the market and hustle for another of the same kind of job.
They can pay attention to this “doing what you love” stuff in the future. When things are sorted. When they feel more secure and stable.
You know how it is.
And with more redundancies looming here in the UK, at least in the public sector, even just getting more of the same is not the cakewalk it once was. Here are a few tips for staying street-savvy, without giving your soul over to the whims of the economy.
Easier to say than to do, perhaps. But, seriously, panic drives you to take action and make decisions that you may regret later. That’s because, when we’re anxious, we’re cut off from the most confident, resourceful parts of ourselves.
So, first things first, do what you need to in order to nail down key concerns.
The biggest one is usually money. Face this fear head-on, and early on. Figure out what you need and what you want, budget and keep a tight reign on things. If you need to talk to banks about refinancing or having mortgage payment holidays or whatever, do it proactively.
Knowing that you’re in control of your money, rather than it being in control of you will give you personal and psychological breathing space.
Listen to your heart and your head
It’s tempting to let your head rule at times when work is tricky. It can definitely help you figure things out and do things cleverly. But it won’t always take account of your intuitions or feelings. They need attention too.
What do you really, really want to do in this situation? What opportunities do you see that your logical mind wants you to ignore? What does your gut tell you about interviews you’ve gone for, or not? What if you paid attention? Where would that take you?
Now, how might you use your mind to logic the next steps?
Focus on what you can do
There’s a lot of “can’t” around at the moment. Can’t work. Can’t afford. Can’t progress. What if you shift your attention off of these things and onto where you can direct your energy ?
Networking is a pretty obvious one. You can do this on or offline. And, since things seem to be changing around you anyway, what do you have to lose by pushing the barriers and experimenting with new networks or new media that you haven’t tried before?
Updating your skills is another. As, indeed, is taking them in a completely different direction again. Money doesn’t need to be an obstacle. There’s a ton of resource online and either free or relatively inexpensive.
If you’re looking for a similar job, get yourself the smartest CV and the best support you can buy to position yourself well in a crowded market. Julie Walraven is a fabulous resource on both fronts.
And if you really do want to use this opportunity for bigger change, find yourself a coach that understands this space and invest in your own transformation.
I’m seeing folks take months right now to find work they are happy with. It all depends on what level you’re at, how much you’re earning, and how much networking you’re prepared to do for yourself.
Meantime, you may still want to put cash in the bank.
I’m counselling people to take a long term view of things now, separating out what they need to do to earn the money to support themselves, from finding work that they will be happy with ongoing.
That could look like choosing to take a job that you know is a compromise of some sort for you in the short term, but using it as leverage for future endeavour.
Or taking interim contracts, if you can find them, to tide you over.
The trick comes in making these decisions consciously and tactically. You do not need to imagine that a short term solution defines you. It doesn’t. It just keeps your spirit alive in the longer term.
Don’t beat yourself up
Finding paths forward in the current economy is fraught with challenge and set-back. Clients tell me of writing emails for jobs and never getting response. Or, of headhunters who were gushing and warm in getting them to interview never following up with the outcome. It shouldn’t be like this, but sadly, sometimes it is.
Don’t, whatever you do, take it personally. It’s really not about you.
Times are tough, but keep the faith. Keep your sense of direction and take action you can believe in. That’s what’s going to see you through.