We’re heading into week number “I have no idea” of lockdown. How have you been spending your time? Have you been getting some Coveducation?

What do I mean by that? We’ve all been given the gift of space over the past weeks. Most of us have probably been filling it with mowing the lawn, building garden furniture, washing the car, walking the dog, bingeing on Netflix box sets or an endless stream of QuiZooms. What we probably haven’t been doing a whole lot of is reflecting. Reflecting on where we are in our lives and whether this is where we wanted to be, and what we’re going to do about it. Such is the size and protracted impact of the virus and lockdown on us all that I think we will all emerge from this crisis changed in some way, for better or worse.

Ask yourself… What have you learned about yourself, others, or the world over the past few months? How has your outlook on life changed? How have your priorities changed? Please use the comments box to let me know, I know that mine certainly have.

As restrictions relax and we’re coaxed back into the wider world, then I see 4 scenarios playing out…

Scenario 1 – “Let’s carry on as if nothing has happened”

Nothing has changed… Not your employer, not you. You expect to return to exactly the same working environment and role you left in March.. same meetings, same travel, same desk, same colleagues, same performance targets, same boss, same culture. From what you are seeing, your organisation is trying to operate in exactly the same way as they did pre-pandemic and there is no sign that they are planning to change how they operate.. same strategy, same objectives, same products/services, same markets, same operational set up. Consider this though, are you deluding yourself? if this is where your thinking is, then research has shown that organisations that do not evolve through crisis struggle to survive once the dust settles.

Questions to ponder:
  • For you, how will you cope if everything changes?
  • What strategies and support will you need if things change?
One thing to do
  • An initial proactive thing you can do is to brush the dust off your cv and make sure it up to date, just in case.

Scenario 2 – “You don’t need me any more?”

Your employer has changed but you haven’t… Your employer has taken the opportunity to make changes and evolve through the crisis, but you haven’t. Are you dreading getting back to normal? Are you fearful about the changes and not sure if you’ll fit in? Will you fit into your employer’s new plans? If not, then it may be time to look for a new job, or consider what you might need to change in yourself to fit into the new normal your employer is building.

Question to ponder
  • Do you need some new skills? Be open with your boss and share your fears and the specific things you’re worried about and get their view to dispel any incorrect assumptions and misunderstandings.
One thing to do :
  • Together you should refresh your Individual Development Plan (or write one, if you haven’t got one!) as your existing 2020 performance targets are likely to be null & void and you may need to add some new development needs.

Scenario 3 – “I’ve outgrown you.. I need to move on”

You’ve changed, your employer hasn’t… What if you’re getting the sense that your employer is expecting you to slot straight back into the org as if nothing has changed, but you’ve been exposed to new experiences and you’ve now got new aspirations and needs.

Questions to ponder
  • What exactly do you want to do?
  • Do you think your existing employer could give you this?
  • Do you need some new skills? Be open with your boss and share your fears and the specific things you’re worried about and get their view to dispel any incorrect assumptions and misunderstandings.
  • Do I need to update my cv now?
One thing to do :
  • it’s time to sit down with your boss to share your thoughts about how you would like your role and working approaches to be. This might be a great opportunity to influence your employer to new ways of working or to redefine your role. If not, then update your cv and get networking!

Scenario 4 – “I think we need to take this relationship to the next stage”

We are not in Kansas any more Toto – you both have changed… Lastly, both you and your employer have changed. If this excites you and you would like to stay with your current employer, then this is the time to talk to your boss. Your needs have changed and you would like to see how you can stay a part of your employer’s evolution.

Questions to ponder
  • What is your vision?
  • What changes are needed from your employer to help achieve this?
  • What could be in it for them? What’s their vision?
One thing to do:
  • Again – It’s time to sit down with your boss to share your thoughts about how you can both changed together with the sum of the parts being bigger than each individually.

So, 4 scenarios, but some common threads across them..

In all scenarios keep the communication channels open with your boss and share your hopes, fears and aspirations.

  • Update your CV… Always a good idea regardless of scenarios, regardless of whether you’ve changed or not, be clear with yourself about what your perfect job would look like and what kind of org you want to work for. Which scenario resonates with you? I’d love to hear and also what your future plans will be.
  • Be clear about your needs – I’m reminded of when I last went through a crisis. It was 3 years ago and I found myself in a situation that was having an impact on my mental health. Now, I have learned to reach out for help when I need it, but this situation prompted a reassessment about what I wanted out of life. I looked at this from 3 perspectives.
    • Balance assessmentMy go-to gauge of how I’m doing is to map my life into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (click here for a video explaining it)to ensure my whole life was contributing in some way to filling up the layers and ensuring I was doing enough of the right things to ensure the 3 lowermost were satisfied at the very least. I have always found that this regular reflection helps keep me focussed on doing the right things and having balance. What I discovered was that the work as doing was great in term of filling level 1, but not contributing to any of the other levels and this shortfall was not being addressed by other things I was doing in my life, so I was completely unbalanced, which was the root cause of my stress.
    • Core values refreshWhat I did next was to spend some time reflecting on what my core values were and then checked if where I was actually spending my time actually aligned with my core values.. and they didn’t. So now I ensure I always take on things (both work and play) that align with my values.(check out this great exercise from Liberationist to discover your values)
    • Tony Robbins’ 6 basic humans needs that drives behaviour (great YouTube video explaining them here) really helped me assess my current activity (work or other) against the 6 needs. I rated myself on a scale of 1-10 how well that need was being fulfilled by that activity. I specifically did this for the job I was doing as this is where I was spending a disproportionate amount of time and the predominant contributor to filling up Maslow

What quickly became obvious was that I needed to change some things which resulted in me leaving the role and looking for opportunities that

1) aligned with my newly refreshed values and

2) could meet my needs.

Crisis, or times of disruption and uncertainty happen to us all the time. When you’re running late for an important meeting, when your child is sick and you’re trying to rearrange your life to take care of them, when your flight is cancelled and you’re not sure how you’re getting home anytime soon or when someone calls unexpectedly when you’re right in the middle of doing something.

What characterises our current time is that everyone is affected in some way by the pandemic in addition to any professional or personal challenges we’ve been living with. Use this time you’ve been given wisely, it’s a gift, you don’t really need to cut the lawn and wash the car every day and those box sets on Netflix will still be there when the pandemic is over.

A wise friend of mine asks himself this all the time…

“What is the best use of my time RIGHT now?

You will never get this day, hour, minute back again. Spend it wisely”

I’d love to hear your thoughts, please add them to the comments.


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