During this time of uncertainty, many are struggling with three questions:
Who am I right now?
Where will I go to work?
How will I provide financially?
So much of our identity is tied to our work that being displaced from that context we struggle with who we are. Almost everyone will tell you “your work is not who you are!” But that statement is about 50% true. We are more than just who we are at work. We are more than an accountant, lawyer, Businessperson, Teacher, Executive, etc. We are also, many of us, people of faith*, Mothers, Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, Friends, Sons and Daughters. We are also individuals, thinkers and feelers. We may fall in the financial category of wealthy or impoverished. We are so many things.
Yet, our workplace is where most of us spend the majority of our time. That’s why, the number one question we ask people when we first meet them is, “what do you do?” Meaning, what is your career, and where do you work. And the number one answer is, “I and an accountant, or teacher, or_____ (you fill in the blank).
And so, let’s give ourselves a break, and be real, what we do DOES define a big part of who we are. And right now, many of us aren’t sure. We hope we will be called back to the place we worked just a month ago and do what we did so we can be who we are. But the “call back” may come slower than hoped, or worst yet, not at all.
Which brings up the next question: Where will I go to work….to be who I am? My advice, don’t wait for the “call back” start looking now! There have been several times in my life when I waited too long to look at other options. Don’t just look at the exact same job in the exact same venue, look and brainstorm offshoots. What primary skill/talent/strength/gift do you have that can be applied to something similar, but NOT the same?
For example, many years ago, I was in the ministry. When I left the ministry, I went into sales. The connection is that I was comfortable speaking, motivating, and persuading people about our faith, so why not about a product? Eventually, my speaking/teaching aspect of sales lent itself to training/consulting. I did both and eventually, I reemerged as a speaker and author. All of these occupations use the same skill set.
The third question, frankly, is related to the other two questions. Answer those questions and the third one will follow. During this time of isolation and uncertainty, identify your key strengths and look in places that can use those strengths. You’ll feel stronger, healthier, and more confident than just waiting!
*As a person of faith, I would say that my faith is fundamental to everything I do.