that during these last few months, you’d been coping by subconsciously believing things would return to normal… You’ve realised that’s not going to happen, it might never happen… You feel shaken, afraid, lost.
Handling Unprecedented Career Uncertainty
I hear how you’re grappling with this new uncertainty. The prospects for your industry are dire. Your bosses kept you and your team busy during lockdown with current projects. But with no future pipeline to speak of, your higher-ups have warned that posts will soon have to go.
You’re barely sleeping with the anxiety about the mortgage and the bills, it’s unbelievable how much it costs to take care of a family. Thank God your wife is a teacher – at least her work looks secure at the moment…
But it’s not just that. Despite this grim outlook for your work situation, part of you is recalcitrant. Lockdown and in particular working from home has changed you.
I tell you that despite your suspicions you’re not going mad. Let’s get some perspective, we’re living through a period of unprecedented change. Even during the Second World War, schools generally stayed open.
Welcome to the VUCA world; volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. We’ve had glimpses of it in the last twenty years due to the impact of new technologies and globalisation, but Covid-19 has taken VUCA to a whole new level. There’s volatility – infection rates are swinging up and down across the world. We have uncertainty – will there be a second lockdown? This is complex – it’s not just about your industry, it’s whether the eco-system of industries that feeds your industry survives. It’s ambiguous - different people interpret the data about the key measures deemed important differently. I wouldn’t be surprised if you feel in turmoil.
Nostalgia for Career Stability
“I feel in turmoil,” you say. “And there’s something else. I’m wondering if maybe I never had it so good as in the pre-Covid world! No it wasn’t perfect, but my work seemed stable, my life was on track, we went on holiday and away for the weekend. I worked out in the gym, had a pint with my mates… and I took it all pretty much for granted.”
“So perhaps you’re feeling nostalgia for the good times?” I say, and you nod. And we agree that those times feel safe because we’ve lived through them and enjoyed them. And I hear the hopelessness in your voice when you say you feel defeated, but you’d like some answers if there are any.
And I suggest that the old normal has gone and we have no clue about how the new normal of work and the economy will turn unfold. What’s more, spending time on predicting the future environment will likely be a fool’s errand.
Career Hope Alongside Covid-19
And I ask you five questions and wait for your responses.
And I say that’s what I’m doing… and that’s all any of us can do right now.
* This is a fictionalised coaching case based on recent experience. No content in this exchange is directly drawn from work with any particular individual or individuals.
© 2020 Trudy Lloyd & Associates. All Rights Reserved.
And if career change is on your mind – won’t a little brainstorming suffice?
I agree, online research can help you manage your career, change jobs, prepare for job interviews and more.
Executive Career Coaching is Personalised Help
However, perhaps you want to find a stimulating and meaningful career path where you can grow your skills over time. Or you’d like to redesign your career so that your work remains meaningful even as you grow as a person through life. Perhaps you want to stay relevant in a fast-changing world, or maximise the financial return on your skill-set and experience. HOW you might achieve these things is personal to you, and online research is unlikely to give you information personalised enough to help you and your specific situation.
That’s where the help of an executive career coach or career counsellor can transform the way you manage your career, and catapult you to higher levels of career fulfilment and career happiness.
3 Key Reasons to Invest in an Executive Career Coach
1. To Help YOU Get a Meaningful and Rewarding Role
Let’s face it recruiters’ objectives are often diametrically opposed to yours as a candidate. Success for the recruiter is achieving a low-risk hire for their client company; tried and tested – coming from the same role at a competitor is ideal; bam, recruiter’s commission assured. In short, recruiters can limit your options.
If for example, you’re trying to move out of a declining sector into a new sector to improve your long term job security or if you’re looking to move into a new function – say from marketing to HR to respond to your changing interests and aspirations at midlife, recruiters’ narrowmindedness can have you crawling up the walls. Recruiters mostly want to put round pegs in round holes… and they may see you as a square peg.
By contrast a good professional career coach sees not only your current skill-set and your career history to date, they also see you as a unique individual whose potential continues to emerge as you progress through your career. They see you as someone who has achieved a lot, but who has plenty more to learn and contribute in their career and in life. They see this even if right now, you can’t.
Because of this an executive career coach can help you to raise your expectations for new roles. They can help you think strategically about how, in your current organisation, you might progress into the kind of role you desire. They can also help you think imaginatively about how you can transfer your skills and your changing interests into new roles or functions that may be very different from what you’ve done to date.
If you feel jaded about your career, an executive career counsellor can challenge your limiting beliefs about what’s possible for you.
2.To Develop an Actionable and Inspiring Career Plan
Ultimately a top executive career coach can help you put together a highly personalised career development strategy and career plan or a career change plan. They can also help you identify any blocks to change or resistance you may have and help you to overcome them.
What’s more they can help you develop creative strategies which will mean you can leapfrog the narrowminded recruiters and reach influencers and decision-makers who will be delighted with the skills and traits you have to offer.
3. To Save Time and Make More Money
They can also keep you accountable so that you continue to move forward and implement the plan. This will mean that you will get to your new role sooner.
If it’s a promotion you’re looking for, an executive career coach can support you to make every step of the career move process more effective for you, so you get that bigger role quicker and bank that bigger pay cheque sooner. Whether it’s designing your job search strategy, writing an impactful and persuasive CV or improving your interview and networking skills, an executive career coach can keep you focused and on track.
Finally, an executive career coach is probably more interested in YOUR career than your partner or your friends and family. In fact, they’re as interested and invested in your career as you are.
A good executive career coach brings you the process, tools and knowledge to triumph with the project that is your career development. Your coach will help you think creatively so you can open up new career paths and career opportunities for yourself. Ultimately your executive career coach will work with you in an empathetic and supportive way and you’ll feel them championing you and your career!
© 2019 Trudy Lloyd & Associates. All Rights Reserved.
"Karen, an account manager in a software company complained to me that she’d grown tired of her role and found it unfulfilling. She wanted work that was more ‘meaningful’.“Trouble is,” she went on, “doing something more ‘meaningful’ isn’t going to pay the mortgage or enable me to support the kids through university, is it?"
I've found it’s common for professionals in well-paid but unfulfilling roles to believe that a career switch to work that’s more ‘meaningful’ will cost them dear. However, I also know it doesn’t have to be so.
What is ‘Meaningful’ Work?
Findings from studies defining ‘meaningful’ work, point to concepts such as ‘the amount of significance people perceive to exist in their work ¹. There’s the idea of a ‘calling’ which has deep historical and religious roots and which might lead people to choosing a role within the church or a healthcare environment. Nowadays the phrase ‘calling’ is often more about an inner drive to do fulfilling or self-actualising work².
There’s also the related concept of ‘meaning in life’³. Which suggests that work is meaningful not only when it is judged to be significant, but also when it is viewed as having a distinct purpose or point.
Some argue that you don’t have to have ‘meaningful’ work, as long as you find meaning in other parts of your life e.g. through family and relationships, a hobby, using your creativity, or through your faith.
The late Susan Jeffers, renowned author and psychotherapist, encouraged us to set the bar high. If your work isn’t ‘joyful’ she encourages us to ditch it.
Ultimately, ‘meaningful work’ is a ‘career value’ which any individual will rank somewhere on a continuum from high to low, according to their own make-up.
The Midlife Crisis and Your Career
Your interest in your career may wane gradually over several years. Or, having been made redundant, you may experience a sudden realisation: ‘I can’t go back to doing that! Either way it can feel frightening when the career that may have paid you handsomely and have reinforced a positive sense of self no longer ‘fits’.
Such experiences are consistent with what renowned psychotherapist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung labelled as the ‘midlife crisis’. Jung believed such an event to be driven by a ‘search for meaning’, and attributed it to the need to ‘individuate’ at midlife, self-actualise and develop further our unique selves.
If you made your career choice in your early twenties, perhaps twenty years ago. And since then you’ve changed and grown, and the world has also changed; is it really surprising that you, your career and the world of work no longer fit together like freshly sawn jigsaw pieces?
How to Get a Better Money-Meaning Balance in Your Career
There’s no quick fix. However, by starting with these three strategies you’ll be on your way to a better balance of money and meaning in your career at midlife.
1.Update Your Understanding of YOU
I believe that everyone should enjoy meaningful, satisfying and rewarding work - work that fires you up! I am fascinated by human potential and the life journeys people make to find work and careers where they can channel and develop their skills and talents in meaningful and satisfying ways.