I’m one of those people that’s great in a crisis. It’s like my brain loves the adrenaline and quickly formulates a plan of action, and off I go to make it happen. Obviously it’s a useful trait to have, but it has got me in trouble a few times. One of the most memorable ones was the time my husband came home from work, having been made redundant when our youngest was less than a month old. He barely had the words out before I’d drawn up a blueprint of how we were going to get him another job and everything would be fine…when what he really needed was a hug, some time to process, and to get angry and even grieve.

If you’re human you’ve probably had at least one or 2 (or more) moments of panic during this pandemic we have found ourselves in. It’s like a bad dream that we wake up to every single day. We have all felt the ups and downs of trying to navigate this new normal. But the key trick is keeping yourself out of the pit of despair.

The way I look at life is we’ve always choices, the main one being…how we think. It was a much smarter person than me that said…

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response”

Victor Frankl

So we can choose to jump into the pit of victim-hood…where I have no control over what happens therefore what’s the point. Worry ourselves sick. And pray for the worst to happen.

OR we can give ourselves a kick up the arse and recognise that we have the power to choose our response.

AND what if in that response we saw an opportunity to make changes about the things that weren’t working anyway. Like maybe you’ve been working crazy hours, or travelling too much, or doing a job you hate. Were you winning in the career stakes really anyway? This chance we’ve been given to pause and reset could be just the turning point you needed to make your career work for you. And I’m all about making your career work for you.

With that in mind I’ve put my aptitude for crisis-thinking into developing a process for you to take control of your career and come out on top. Here are my 6 P’s for Career Management in a Crisis:

1. Plan

Your brain loves a plan. Something to work towards that fills the void when you’re in a panic. When you’re feeling that anxiety it’s because you don’t know what to do, you feel overwhelmed, your brain can’t focus. And that’s completely natural with all this uncertainty.

The first step to creating a plan is to get yourself out of the emotion and focus on…what do I really want to happen here? What would success look like for me? A good plan begins with the end in mind.

From there you need to ask yourself – what needs to happen for that to happen? And the rest of the P’s will help you both create your vision for success and identify the actions to complete your plan…

2. Purpose

Have you ever really thought about what your purpose is at work? Or what my purpose could be if I were to really think about what would make me happy? Make a difference? We’ve been given a moment in time to pause and potentially hit the reset button. To think about what’s really important to you. Why not use it and consider the areas below. Think about when you feel driven and focused and like you can achieve anything. What are you doing?

Career What you love diagram

In what ways do these things overlap? What is this telling you about how you can focus your career future?

3. Potential

Here’s a question that’s probably not that comfortable to answer. How close are you to fulfilling your true potential in your current career path? Or do you have this nagging feeling that you could do more, be more, achieve more?

Only YOU can fulfil your potential. Surely that’s part of why we’re here, why we exist. To leave our mark on the world in some way. And that’s something different for each of us because we’re all unique.

Think about your strengths (those things you’re good at AND make you feel strong)…

– What’s going unused?

– Is there anything I am not being recognised for?

– What do I know deep down I could do more of?

– Am I doing anthing that doesn’t play to my strengths? Weakens me?

– What do you owe it to myself to try to see if it’s right for me?

– How do I continue growing and learning?

4. Pivot

Perhaps the pointers above have got you thinking about making a change, or maybe you can even see the writing is on the wall for what you do…the world was changing fast before this and some careers will lose their importance. Maybe you’ve realised that Sunday night had become a moment of dread, that you no longer have any energy or enthusiasm about what you do.

Perhaps now is the right time for you to pivot. Think of how a basketball player keeps one foot on the spot and pivots to a different direction. A career pivot is where you stay rooted in the things that work for you and step forward in a new direction. And it’s about being proactive. Acting now rather than waiting until it’s too late.

What does a pivot mean practically?

Well rather than going back to retrain and do something entirely different (which of course is a possibility), you take the time to understand what you can build on. What are transferable skills? What do your strengths, experience, and skills lend themselves to beyond what you’re doing? Or in another direction?

It may be a case of taking incremental steps that move you in a new direction. For instance, taking on a project that pushes you into learning a whole new area but still uses your project management skills.

Start by taking an inventory of what you have, identifying needs that you could fulfil, and working out ways to develop or plug your gaps. Then you need to get yourself out there and get experience in your newly pivoted path. Whether that’s paid or for free to build your credibility. The other P’s will help with this.

5. Position

Whether you’re pivoting or wanting to increase career security, it’s all in how you position yourself. If you want the opportunities to come your way, it doesn’t happen by magic. It’s a function of people knowing who you are and what you can offer, and connecting you with the right opportunity.

To successfully position yourself it’s really important to think about what you’re communicating in-person (via Zoom or phone) or online through platforms like LinkedIn. How can you let people know who you are and what you’re about.

That means:

– Making yourself visible

– Confidently talking about what you do and deliver

– Keeping your ear to the ground so you can quickly identify opportunities

– Be quick to offer solutions and support, especially to solve key business programme

6. Persistence

Nobody ever got anything without a bit of effort. If you stop at the first hurdle or the first ‘no’, you won’t succeed! If you can give up easily, do you even want it enough? It’s important that you work on making it a vision that excites you and will drive you on the hardest of days. Picture yourself where you want to be. Make it vivid. Make it real.

And remember you’ve got to keep plugging at it. Each stumble and failure will teach you something about what it means to succeed.

Think about it, ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.