We are learning how the COVID-19 shutdown affects everyone, but not in the same way. Situations change quickly, bringing intense challenges as well as singular opportunities. For some, the shutdown may provide a time to evaluate their work experiences and consider options for a career change.

Despite the alarmingly high rate of job loss, a significant number of people continue to work. Many of these are providers of essential services that range from medical and emergency service workers to retail grocery and delivery providers. Others hold positions that allow them to work remotely from home.

Where Will You Be Post-Shutdown?

A group that stirs my interest as a career coach are those professional workers who are relieved to be reassigned to work at home or on temporary leave. These are people who are unhappy with their jobs. Despite the inconvenience and financial insecurity, they welcome the break in routine.

Does that sound like you? If so, I want you to consider how you can benefit from your “new normal.” How can you use the circumstances for a creative and productive rethinking of your career? The shutdown is a perfect opportunity for professional soul searching.

Consider this: Where will you be post-shutdown? If you feel stuck in an unsatisfying job, is it time to take a hard look at your options and make a change? If so, it will require courage, imagination, and planning.

Courage to Evaluate

It takes courage to take a dried eyed look at yourself in an unsatisfying job because there is the implied nagging question about whether you are willing to take action. Action involves change, which almost always means uncertainty, doubt, and perhaps false steps. Most people in unsatisfying jobs don’t face up to their unhappiness. Doing something about it seems harder than the daily discomfort and mild loss of self-esteem that comes from being in the wrong assignment and not facing up to it. So it takes courage to look in the mirror and admit that you are not using all of your gifts to achieve what you want.

Imagination to See Possibilities

The second step in moving beyond an unsatisfying job takes imagination. You have to imagine what circumstances would give you the feeling that you are doing your best at something that matters. If not a marketing executive in a Fortune 100 company, then what? Teaching high school? Becoming a nurse? Starting your own firm? The possibilities are endless, and it takes a combination of self-knowledge and an open mind to develop a list of alternative work possibilities that are worth doing some research to see if they fit.

Aristotle wrote that “where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation.”

Planning for Change

The third useful step in rethinking an unsatisfying career is planning. A good start is trying to identify the characteristics of an ideal job. If you know which need of the world appeals, then there are several practical considerations:

  • What sort of organization you want to work for. The private, public, and philanthropic sectors all address issues you care about.
  • Where would you prefer to work? In a new or established organization? Do you want to work on local or global issues?
  • How much money do you need and how many hours do you want to work each week?

The shutdown is a great time to do some sustained thinking with the hope of coming out the other end inspired to find a meaningful assignment. Things are changing quickly in our world, and we all face uncertainty, but your job satisfaction is essential. A career coach can help you sort out the real priorities in job choices.

Peter Sherer is a nationally recognized career coach who offers clarity and confidence to mid-career and senior executives in transition. In just two short days, his rigorous assessment tools enable his clients to identify a meaningful assignment that uses all of their skills and experience. Learn more and get in touch with Peter today.