Career Change During COVID
Why are so many professional women thinking about a career change during COVID?
It turns out that periods of personal or collective disruption bring many people to an inflection point, where they must decide how to move forward in highly turbulent environments. This causes many to re-evaluate their priorities and take risks that appear less desirable during more stable times.
Welcome to 2020: The Year of Collective Disruption
The year 2020 may go down as the most disruptive time in modern human history.
2020 started out with all the excitement that a new decade offers, but quickly turned into the year that will be forever known for the significant upheaval experienced in our global collective as we grappled with a deadly pandemic and troubling political and social dynamics.
We’re now months into COVID and still unable to see what the end looks like, who we’ll be after having gone through this turmoil, and what will be different in our society and collective consciousness as a result.
Perhaps no one in our society has felt this disruption more acutely than working women, where for so many of us, balancing our work and personal lives in the midst of the pandemic feels impossible given larger burdens placed on us by quarantine, dependent care, and homeschooling. As a result, some are beginning to wrestle with how they can reimagine how they work to bring their lives back into some semblance of balance.
Being in a place of reckoning where we acknowledge that our life circumstances are no longer sustainable can cause great anxiety and confusion. Even in the best of times, the demands of corporate work are difficult to manage. The hard truth is that our modern work culture normalizes an unhealthy dedication to our careers, often to the detriment of critical priorities like relationships, self-care, and leisure time. And this dynamic becomes magnified during times of crisis.
But What Does All This Have to do with Career Transformation?
Perhaps none among us knows the impact of disruptive life events on our work/life balance better than those who’ve experienced their own personal period of upheaval, a version of what the year 2020 has come to represent for the collective.
A personal time of upheaval can occur when we face a significant life event that casts the unforgiving nature of work expectations squarely into the spotlight and shakes us awake to just how fragile our work/life balance often is. Events like an unexpected illness, a death or divorce, the birth of a child, or the need to provide dependent care for a loved one can make it abundantly clear that we cannot effectively manage new personal and emotional demands alongside the never-ending stresses of corporate work, at least not without making some changes.
For me, I lived through my own personal period of upheaval beginning in the fall of 2014, when a series of personal tragedies shook me awake to the life choices I had made. After the untimely deaths of my brother and good friend and the devastating diagnosis of a terminal illness for a member of my family, I could no longer deny that the balance in my life was hanging on by a fragile thread indeed.
I knew then that I had to come to terms with the fact that, for almost my entire adult life, I had been placing the bulk of my energy into an area of my life that didn’t fulfill me and left me stressed and dissatisfied. That area was my work. At the time, my career as an IT executive for a Fortune 250 company left me with little time to focus on the needs of my loved ones as we experienced seismic shifts in our circumstances, never mind having the space to process the emotional toll that these events were having on me.
It was during this time that I came to the realization that I no longer wanted to live a life dedicated to work that required all the best parts of me, with little to show for my efforts except for status, a great paycheck, and the belief that I had “made it.”
It was time for me to reinvent my career into one that would fit within the broader context of the life I truly desired, rather than continuing past patterns of squeezing my personal life into what was left after my career took its disproportionate cut.
The Parallels with 2020
What’s fascinating about the year 2020 is that the major life upheavals we all experience from time to time, which affect us all individually but at different points in our lives, is now happening on a collective level because of the shared toll that the global pandemic is having on the lives of pretty much everyone. The unsustainable aspects of corporate work norms are being clearly revealed in light of the huge shifts we’ve had to make to how we work in response to the pandemic.
My Question to You: Are You Contemplating Career Change During COVID?
At this point, I’d like to pose the following question to you: what questions and insights are coming up for you regarding your current work situation in this time of shared upheaval?
Perhaps this period of individual and collective disruption inspires you to finally think about making that career change you’ve been pondering for some time. Maybe you find yourself out of work and feeling called to change directions instead of going back to the same-old, same-old. Maybe you’re trying to figure out how to navigate an impossible work situation that has arisen due to changing circumstances for you or your organization. Or, maybe you’re just trying to hang on to the job you currently have and wait for the storm to pass.
As painful as these moments of reckoning with a changing work situation can be, my experience is that these times also bring us to an inflection point, a moment where we must decide where to go from here.
These moments lead to some of the most amazing career transformations I’ve ever witnessed, including my own.
When encountered, the need to resolve an unsustainable work situation calls forth our innate capabilities of resilience and creativity. For some, we begin to rethink how we prioritize our time, our connections, and our health. These moments call us to go inside ourselves in search of solutions. We begin thinking about going back to the basics of who we authentically are, absent the professional identity that we’ve so carefully curated over the course of our lives.
It’s often in these moments when we come to terms with the fact that we’ve built our careers around expectations of how we’re supposed to be living our lives. It’s then that we can instead decide to take new ownership over our power to imagine and build something entirely different for ourselves, perhaps a new career built on purpose, meaning, and fulfillment.
So What’s Next for Those Seeking Career Change During COVID?
The great news is that for those of you who are thinking about forging ahead on a new career path, there are now so many options for how you can rewrite your future.
We currently live in an economy where there is more flexibility and freedom with how we work compared with any other time in human history. So many possibilities now exist for how we can define our work in line with our purpose and goals, including everything from online entrepreneurship to working as an independent worker as part of the gig economy to remote work as an employee for a major corporation.
The bottom line is that if you’re feeling alone in grappling with your career options in this moment of intense social disruption, rest assured that you’re not.
I had my 2020-like year of disruption in the not too distant past, and know the kind of amazing life that awaits you on the other side if you choose to reinvent your career. It’s what I help my clients do every day. There are so many resources available to those who want to embark on their own personal journey to career transformation, with career coaching being one of many.
Moving Forward with Career Change During COVID
For those of you on the precipice of jumping into the unknown and pursuing career change during COVID, I commend you for your courage and willingness to explore. There’s no doubt that this is difficult work that takes patience and perseverance, but with the right support and guidance, it can be one of the most rewarding endeavors of your lifetime.
In fact, it’s through the messy process of finding a new way that women just like you begin to step into lives that align with their purpose and authenticity, bringing a level of meaning and ease into their work that they never thought possible.
For those of you traveling into new career terrain, I wish you tremendous good fortune on your journey. May you go forth in adventure and excitement! A whole new life of purpose and fulfillment is waiting for you on the other side, and I can’t wait to see where you end up.
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Hi, I’m Kim!
I’m a Certified Life & Career Coach, and business entrepreneur.
My passion is empowering women to build thriving careers centered on freedom and empowerment.