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Anytime Career Crisis

We are familiar with mid-career crisis.

Professionals near half way into their career suddenly start feeling whether they are doing the right work, what will come next, is there a future, will they become the next CEO and what not. This more or less goes in tandem with mid-life crisis where we question - is this all to my life?

There could be pivots here. Definitely changes happen.

We are in 2020 and professionals are now having “anytime” career crisis.

There is no marked timeline to it - beginning, middle or end.

There are 2 factors contributing to it - the kind of workforce and the kind of workplace.

The “new normal” workforce:

Professionals just joining work have a lot of questions around the word ‘career’ itself. Their beliefs, attitudes, mental models are quite different when compared to the people who joined the workforce a decade back.

They have high risk appetite. They do not live by the society’s definition of ‘safe job’. Many school drop-outs & graduates directly go into creating start-ups. Some of them fail, but it does not deter them. “Livelihood” as defined by their previous generations is deeply questioned today. Most millennials do not want to spend most of their waking time at work. They view their jobs as one aspect of their life and not the whole. Its also heartening to note that many of them think about giving back to the society when they are just taking off.

This is reflected in my coaching conversations - people in their late 20s bring up work life balance as one of the goals they want to achieve.

More importantly, across experience levels, there is a desire for ‘meaning’ and questions on their ‘calling’ - is this what I am born to do? Is there something better?

The “new normal” work place:

There is also considerable change in the work places of today - famously called the VUCA, this is the environment where only the agile survive. Skills get outdated every day.

There is a constant change striking the working population by the hour. Baseline changes, work product changes, technology changes, people changes - did I leave out anything? Lets leave the talk about machines for another day.

Our cognitive agility is put to test 24 hours a day. Sometimes it feels like we are sitting on earth but can experience its rotation at 1,675 kilometres per hour.

In my coaching conversations - people who are planners feel quire threatened by this degree of un-precedented change. They ask - Where is the single source of truth? The moment I create a plan, before I discuss with my team, it becomes outdated. I am having to be constantly on my toes. It drains me out!

We see that the Workforce & Workplace have changed.

Given this fact, what can we do to handle career surprises, shocks and whatever comes up for us? There are several ways of course.

I wish to write about 2 things - one is the internal lens with which we see our career and another, external succour that we can seek.

Our lens of perception

When we expect to drive on a straight road, and there are too many diversions for hours and no food and water, we could say we have a crisis of sorts.

However, when we are going on a curved path, like a hill, we expect the path to curve. We are better planned for the trip. Everything we need is stocked. We service our vehicle. We ensure the driver knows how to drive on hilly terrain. Most often, we just drive on and reach the destination. We don’t attribute the word ‘crisis’ to this because our expectation & reality more or less matched.

Like this curved ride, our career in 2020 is no longer a linear road. There are so many ups and downs. Some people say its almost like surfing. You thought you surmounted one wave & there comes another. But when you ask any surfer why they surf, they say that’s what they enjoy.

Same case with a roller coaster. A roller coaster is a type of amusement ride that employs a form of elevated railroad track designed with tight turns, steep slopes, and sometimes inversions says Wikipedia. There are certain people who scream & cry their way through the ride. There are some people who scream & enjoy every second of it. The difference is how they perceive the ride. The question is - which one you want to be? Which mindset serves you better?

An individual’s career on an average spans 30+ years. There are miles & miles to go. The path is winding. One job, one project ain’t going stop your journey. So lets enjoy the ride!

Seeking help

The other most important thing that is available to professionals today is ‘expert help’. Be aware to catch yourself when your stress hovers around the danger limit.

If your work creates such negative states to affect your your mental balance, seek out a counsellor or a therapist depending on the intensity.

If you feel yourself a little off-roading in terms of your career growth or performance, seek out a coach who will help you remove road-blocks, keeps you accountable and take you towards maximising your potential.

Whatever the perceived “crisis” may be, do not stop from asking for help.

Career 2020 is an adventurous ride indeed, but suffering is optional!

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