Just as the world is in lockdown, so are our working lives to some extent. This situation is truly frustrating for many. But for others, it provides an opportunity for reflecting on new career directions and paths, executive short course options and changing direction for the better. Definitely, this is a moment to reinvent and refresh.
According to a recent report by the McKinsey consulting group, in South Africa specifically, the job market is changing and becoming more digital orientated. Embracing digitisation and re-skilling in this area may open up a whole now world of work for middle managers.
The extent that COVID 19 has struck permits us to reflect on some bigger existential questions like who we are and what we want to do with our lives.
The current distorted working situations do not promote thinking creatively regarding such questions. The coronavirus pandemic is threatening and has caught the world unprepared both financially and psychologically.
Career change – not a job change
Professor Ibarra notes that a huge professional change makes a considerable psychological effect on us because it involves a change of identity.
This kind of transition is both a social and psychological process. A person may move away from a position or a place without yet having left it, or you might move towards a new job that you know less about.
As a result, Professor Ibarra emphasizes that the transitioning process might take a longer period than expected.
The process may be a messy, non-linear, unstructured, and informal move. Thus, the professor says that it takes time for one to figure out exactly what to become. It is a discovery process that takes more time than a simple job move.
Normally, one plans and implements a job change, which means it is answer-driven. However, a transition is an interactive, process-driven process that involves experimenting and learning.
Making a start will be driven by an increase in your sense of urgency. You will have pull and push factors regarding your current job and what you dislike about your situation. It is not surprising that people in your current network that know you well may favor the existing situation.
While an individual may hope for luck, Professor Ibarra says that triggers and jolts associated with luck are not sufficient. One needs a range of alternative and materializing possibilities to assess and choose the most fitting.
It is vital to create a list of various possibilities. In other words, this involves developing a portfolio of different options. With more choices, you can discover a better solution.
To move out of the starting phase, you need to try different options and bring to life the possible selves. Notably, possible selves are ideas that the ideas you have about who you want to become.
While some may be sound, realistic, and founded on experience, others might be untested, nascent, fuzzy, vague, or pure fantasy. Besides, some may be naturally appealing than others.
It is normal to fill neither here nor there when in between the new and old. But it is vital because you will attain some clarity and begin to crystalize a story or plan that makes sense.
Develop some side projects
To make the last step, you need to come up with side projects, approaches that will help to explore other potential options and gain new insights and skills.
This might mean taking short assignments within your firm or taking on freelance or advisory tasks.
You may also join professional or board associations, or begin community involvement or some charity. Besides, taking a course will help you to gain new skills.
The next thing would be shifting and enlarging your networks that will provide exposure to new ideas, people, and influences. It is also good to reflect on new ideas and insights.
Shift your network
Think about the people you have shared with important matters concerning your career in recent months. How would you terminate your relationship with them?
In doing this, you get to know the weak and strong ties as well as the core persons. Your close family and friends make up the core – people who know you best. Weak ties make up of people you don’t meet often.
Understanding people in your network will help you know people you can learn from. It will also inform you about creating new friends who can help you learn new insights.
Self-reflect out loud
It’s challenging to self-reflect when in isolation. According to Professor Ibarra, you should create a list of your likely selves and share them with others. Then say it out loud together with others.
Saying something loud changes it and helps you to consider aspects that are more appealing than others. Make an effort to share where you are and your future goals. Also, share with others who are going through similar issues.
Take your time
Making a huge change in life is likely to take time. So this realization helps one to know that we are different, and everyone needs time and space to think about things.
Never become too hard on yourself or impatient for not moving fast. Everyone needs to rest, be still, and think to consolidate memories and views, and integrate learned concepts.