“Never waste a good crisis,” Marvin, a former client, stated. I chuckled as I noted his comment. Little did I know that a few weeks later it would be my mantra, too.
The crisis? A major desktop computer problem severe enough that it needed diagnosis and repair at the technician’s shop. My heart sank, and I felt panicky as I watched the technician leave with my computer–the day before a three-day weekend. Without a laptop computer (at that time) or a smart phone, I needed to find other ways to conduct my professional and personal communication.
In the midst of my concern, I reminded myself that this wasn’t a life-threatening disease, and that I’d need to figure out how to get through this major disruption.
During my computer’s eight-day absence, I discovered other ways to access my business database, check email, handle financial transactions, and communicate with friends. Some things I couldn’t do at all, and much of what I DID do was inconvenient, but my life did not come to an end.
While figuring out how to handle critical daily communication, I took steps to reduce the impact of any future computer problems by investing in a reliable daily backup system. Plus, I had time to think through some business dilemmas such as how to shift sending my six-times-a-year newsletter from US Mail to email.
What I learned from dealing with this technological crisis applies to any crisis, including a career crisis like a job loss. When faced with such a crisis:
1. Get your bearings. First, acknowledge that a crisis is upsetting and maybe even disorienting. A job loss, through frightening, is rarely life-threatening. Remind yourself that in three days, three weeks, three months, or three years it will be over. It will be another memory.
Second, commit to maintain some routines, even very simple ones like exercise, regular meal times, or end-of-day rituals. They provide continuity in the midst of disruption.
2. Reach out. Call on resources–people, information, and technology. Whether it’s talking with a friend to generate ideas, seeking feedback on your updated resume, doing online research, or meeting with a career counselor, enlist help. Don’t try to do it alone. Although you may feel desperate, there are respectful and dignified ways to tap into your resources.
3. Re-evaluate. The disruption of a job loss allows, even invites, breaking old stale patterns. You may find better ways to do your search, or maybe it’s time to consider shifting direction.
4. Learn from the crisis. Determine how you can apply what you’ve learned, whether to avoid a recurrence or to handle a similar situation in the future. For example, establishing a financial emergency fund can allay the dread of homelessness. Keep your resume updated, and continue to build and tend to your network.
5. Express your thanks and appreciation. When the crisis has passed, thank the people who helped you along the way, whether through a lead to your new job or the simple kindness of a friend. Taking time to let others know the resolution of your career crisis strengthens human bonds and extends goodwill.
Crises, disruptions, and unplanned events happen. By getting your bearings, reaching out, using the disruption to re-evaluate, learning from the crisis, and thanking those who helped you get through it, you won’t have wasted a good crisis.
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Anyone faced with the challenge of explaining a shift in career direction should take a look at the article, “Six Solutions for Career Shift Challenges” in Martin Yate’s blog.
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What I’ve Been Reading
Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your LIfe, by Barbara Stanny.
In her own words: “I interviewed over 150 six-figure women—entrepreneurs, corporate executives, white-collar professionals, freelancers and even part-timers (really!). I, being a classic underearner, wanted to learn how they did it and if I could too.
Though they came from widely different backgrounds and had vastly different work experiences, they were forging highly successful careers by following seven key strategies. As I started following these strategies, I became a six-figures earner before I even finished writing the book!”
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Thanks for Referrals From:
Jeff Stockton, Liz Pittman, Marcella Stevens, Fran Bonham, Bronwen DiAntonio, andUniversity of Missouri-St. Louis Career Services.
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Consider a Career Action Planning (CAP) Session
> Feel stuck or stalled in your career
> Are worried about a layoff
> Wonder if it’s not just a new job but a new career you need
> Have been looking for work but not getting results
In this 90-120 minute meeting, we can get to the root of your career problem and come up with a plan to solve it.
For more information call me at 314-752-1373 or use the comment form on my website