Is your career languishing because of Covid? Or are you climbing the wrong mountain?

Road to Mt Cook New Zealand

Everywhere I turn covid has disrupted things, in particular career plans.  It has put job changes on hold, stopped career moves/overseas experiences (OE) and generally caused people to ‘press pause’. But is this just about covid? I think not.  

Covid has disrupted career plans, but it has also caused people to stop, to reflect and question what they’re doing with their life, and why.  

Careers are like mountains; they’re all different, come in all shapes and sizes and usually have several different routes/paths to the top.  Just because one route is blocked it doesn’t mean there aren’t other routes to reach what you want.  However, before you look at other routes it’s also good to check that you’re still climbing the right mountain.  

So how can you stop languishing and get your career back on track?  Here’s some practical steps.

1. Accept what’s happened. 

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But if you’re blaming someone or something and constantly complaining, the chances are you are not accepting what has happened. But you are wasting your valuable energy.

2. Focus forward

Turn your energy and attention forwards – what can you do? This might not be obvious at first; it takes some work. Read on to learn how.

3. Check-in. How clear is your career plan?

Are you climbing the right mountain? Do you have something specific to aim for? Do you have a route – some action steps that move you from where you are now towards your goal? If you gave your career plan to someone else – could they understand it? And could they follow your action steps? That’s assuming you have a plan. If yes – marvellous! Move to step 5. If no – try step 4.

4. Revisit your career plan.

  • What specifically are you trying to achieve? What is your goal?
  • What are your reasons for wanting to achieve this?  What’s your why? E.g., experience, growth, learning, ambition etc.
  • What action steps will take you towards your goal?
  • What else do you need to know? (Knowledge, understanding)
  • What else do you need to be able to do to? (Skills, behaviours)

Write your answers down and look at them carefully. If you now have a clear goal, the chances are you can do something from where you are right now.  If it’s not obvious, how could you find out what that something might be?

5. Gather advice/input from others.

A great way to generate ideas and start looking at things differently is by talking to others about your goal/plans.   

a) Find someone who has already done what you’re planning. 

What an opportunity! Most people are willing to help others; by sharing their story, their experiences, their advice. Chat about your plan, ask if they have any suggestions for you now. It’s likely this will give you new ideas.  

b) Ask widely, start with those you know best.

We are surrounded by people with different experiences to our own. You never know who might be able to help unless you start asking! It might not be someone you know personally. But it is easy to get started – ask the people you already know. Yes, I do mean family, friends, colleagues. You will be surprised what happens when you start asking. 

6. Keep an open mind

If you ask, be willing to listen and really understand what is being suggested. Keep considering things that don’t immediately appear to be relevant. If you can’t see how suggestions are relevant, then keep asking questions until you can.

7. Ask yourself – SO WHAT?

So, what could I do that moves me towards my goal?  What are a couple of things I can do now/next?

8. Decide on one action and get started.

Taking just one action towards your goal, however small, will generate positive energy because it will feel like progress in the direction you want to go.  

Your action might not get you up the mountain by the fastest and most direct route, it might take a little longer, it might wind back and forth – but it does lead you towards your goal.  So, stop languishing and get moving!

“I will come again and conquer you because as a mountain you can’t grow, but as a human, I can” – Sir Edmund Hillary.

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