What do languishing lettuce, ‘side hustles’, career transition and the catalyst of Covid-19 have in common? Read on and find out how the current pandemic may be the trigger to reassess your working life and future post lockdown.
The catalyst of Covid-19
With so many people in precarious working situations, there are many considering their futures. People are furloughed, living with the fear of redundancy or who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic already. The recruitment market is an ‘interesting place’ at the moment. There are organisations recruiting, but many are holding off until lockdown is over and the economic situation is clearer. Individuals who are furloughed have got time on their hands to think about what else they may want to do in the future. And people who are working from home and experiencing a different type of working life may be thinking about what they want to do post lockdown. The enormity of this situation has made most of us revisit our purpose and direction in life.
What are ‘side hustles’?
I didn’t know what ‘side hustles’ were until recently. Side hustles are piece of works or jobs that you get paid for doing in addition to your main job. To me, with my coaching/mentoring mindset, this seemed like a superb way of trying something else out. They remove the need to make too dramatic a career move or close the door to opportunities you may want to have a playful try at. I was hooked on the idea immediately!
How to consider career transition
The best career transition advice I have ever read is by Hermione Ibarra. In her book ‘Working Identity’ she writes about having a working identity which is a combination of the kind of work you do, the relationships and organisations that form part of your working life and the story you share about what you do, why you do it and how you arrived there. To reshape this identity, you can make adjustments to all three of these aspects over time. Often testing incrementally whilst making small changes to create your professional renewal. Ibarra’s advice is basically — don’t jump job or career until you have tried something out first!
For me, this is where ‘side hustles’ come in. This period of time for many of us is an ideal situation to create new opportunities to try things out. Just dipping our toes in the water of something new or fresh. Exploring different work possibilities. Or trying some pro bono work out in a new or semi-related field to help you decide where you want to put your future energy.
And what about the lettuces?
Well from the state of my lettuces, I am not going to become a market gardener during lockdown. That ‘side hustle’ is out of the window! Nor am I going to make it onto the Great British Sewing Bee (my scrubs making left a lot to be desired). However, the last few weeks have been a fertile time for self-reflection as I think about my own career transition and what I want to do next. Already due to personal circumstances, I have made enormous changes to my working life in the last few months. However, there is a craving for change and something different. I think the Groundhog Day nature of our current existence makes us all hungry for excitement, newness, freedom. That deliciousness that comes from imagining some perfect new working scenario, just dropping into our lives.
I get my best ideas when I am running. This morning at about mile six, I began to think about possible ‘side hustles’ I could explore outside of the market gardening, using my domestic goddess skills and running a ski chalet. The best ‘side hustles’ are those where you can often use some of your current skill set or knowledge and expand it. Two ideas popped straight into my mind. Writing a book, which is an idea I have had for years but never felt motivated enough. Could I do it without the comfort blanket of my writing partner Paul Stokes? Or what about setting up a podcast? Would people want to hear discussions about coaching, mentoring and other developmental topics. It is quite a narrow field and I don’t have the charisma or looks of a Rajan Chatterjee. More thinking for me to mull over on my next run.
What is stopping us all ‘side hustling’ or considering career transition?
The catalyst of Covid-19 provides such a fertile time to think about our lives and careers. We could all be spending this time re-evaluating and using this as an opportunity to move on.
Looking out of the window in the sunshine, it seems unreal we are in the middle of a global pandemic. However, this is a time of such uncertainty and stress that most of us are feeling quite anxious, especially if our work and careers are severely impacted. Or we or those close to us have experienced the virus and the horror and loss it creates. Even low-grade background anxiety makes a difference to how we are thinking and will also affect the quality and duration of our sleep. There is a real tiredness amongst everyone I talk to, created by underlying stress and the situation.
Something else that gets in the way of many of our inspirational ideas and motivation to try new things is the basic fear of stepping out and trying something different, even the smallest step. ‘We suffer more in imagination than in reality,’ Seneca. Piling more unnecessary fear on top of the fear caused by the pandemic creates a fear overload. So mentally we park our ideas and we shut off until life gets back to ‘normal’.
What should you do?
This is where having a good friend, partner, coach or mentor is helpful to talk through our ‘side hustle’ and career transition ideas. Perhaps this is a good time to review where we are and experiment a little. Even have some virtual conversations with people who can help us. Providing us with a reality check and the bags of support and encouragement needed. This pandemic is an obstacle. However, it is also an opportunity to reflect, experiment, shift our connections and use this as a catalyst and trigger for change.
Do get in touch to discuss if you would like to. I think using this time to explore ideas is helpful to everyone. After all, which of us has ever experienced a time like this in the past? A young mentee in a webinar last week told me confidently that he was expecting his mentor to share experiences with him of living under lockdown from the past. I politely enquired if his mentor had experienced the Spanish Flu epidemic? I think my humour went over his head!
Take care and keep safe.
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