Navigating Your Career in Today's Trying Economy
Recently, I was asked by one of my long-term clients to help motivate and inspire their team. You see, they work in the tech industry and have been observing layoffs in the sector and have experienced layoffs as an organization too. The morale is low. The fear is high. The pressure to do more with less is palpable.
Unfortunately, this situation is not unique to my client or their team. And it is not unique to 2023 either.
If there is one thing that we know to be true, it is that "the only constant in life is change". There will be ups; and there will be downs. None of these ups and downs, however, are in our control. Despite our best efforts to control the world around us, it is an impossible task.
One of my favorite frames of reference for what we actually can control (which candidly I cannot find the source for) is this:
All too often, we put so much energy and effort in trying to control everything else around us, consciously or not, that we lose sight of what it is what we actually can control. That is ourselves, our reactions, our behaviors - to ourselves and to others.
With that being said, fear around layoffs and anxiety around slower job advancements will do nothing but bring you down. It will leave you in a place of depletion and wasted energy resulting in nominal care for yourself.
Rather than focus on that fear and the "what could be", why not take control of your attitude, your energy, your effort - and ultimately your career.
When I was in my late 20's, I had a heart-to-heart with one of my HR Directors at the time. Gail told me, and I quote:
"No one cares about your career like you do."
At the time, my young mind was offended, hurt, and blown away by the audacity of her words. Of course the company cares about me and my career. I give my blood, sweat, and tears every day to this job to do and be the best, to grow the business, and ultimately to grow my career.
But she was right. Yes, my boss cared about me and wanted me to succeed. Yes, the head of the agency thought well of me and appreciated my efforts. Yes, I had great relationships with my clients and they valued the work that I delivered. BUT at the end of the day, none of them would've sacrificed their success for mine. The care and commitment that they had to me would only take me so far. (And so many people experience this same realization when they get laid off or passed up for a promotion, etc.)
It was then that I really honed in on the fact that my career was mine and mine alone to manage. I would always be the best possible employee, boss, or now business owner that I could be, but I had to make decisions that were best for me and I had to go after exactly what it is that I wanted.
So during these volatile economic times, I offer to you these words:
Focus on what you can control - your effort, your energy, and your growth path.
To layer on top of that, I want to share some helpful tips to consider about how you spend your effort, your energy, and how you move your growth path forward.
Create your career vision map: if you don't know where you want to go professionally, now is a great time to dream and make a plan about what the future holds for you. After all, if you don't know where you are going, how will you know when you've arrived?
Be proactive: assess your skills and experiences today and see what gaps you have. Rather than wait for the perfect job opportunity to give you that experience, proactively go after it. Share your vision and hopes with your leadership (e.g., if you don't ask, you don't get). Consider volunteering, asking for the opportunity to stretch, take classes, etc. Don't wait for that promotion or opportunity to come to you, go get the experience proactively.
Build your brand: know what it is that you want to be known for and find ways to make that come to life. Consider thought leadership efforts on LinkedIn or within the office, offer free training for your peers, etc.
Grow your network: relationships are the key to all things in life and by growing your network (internally and externally) you may realize that there are other areas of interest, other opportunities that might come your way...oh and that is a great way to continue to expand your personal brand too!
Look at your whole life: sometimes a lull in our career is what we need for our personal life. I believe in work/life integration so assess whether this is an opportunity for you to find greater balance and joy in your life too.
Get creative: the biggest growth in our lives comes from the biggest constraints or challenges. When we have limitations (like a struggling economy), we are forced to find creative ways to succeed within. Instead of thinking "I can't", consider "I can if I...".
You are a powerful, wonderful human being and you have so much to give to this world. Be bold and confident in who you are. Know that you are always growing and that your career is a journey (not a destination). Take charge and care about your career like no other.
If you're feeling stuck, career coaching might be a great option for you. All of the coaches at WeInspireWe are in your corner, cheering you on. To book a free strategy session for your career, click here.
Tami Chapek is the CEO, Founder and Head Coach at WeInspireWe. Tami believes in community and positive change and has dedicated her life to bringing these concepts together. By empowering one, we empower many - and she believes that answer starts within. Click here to book a free strategy session with Tami today.