Recently I posted a video on how to future proof your career, but I only addressed the career planning aspects of how to prepare for an uncertain future. As an executive and career coach, I also see the personal toll and challenges that people encounter when creating a “Plan B” in case of reorganizations, layoffs and other hard-to-prepare-for disruptions. [For more insight into the kind of disruptions expected in the future, check out my recent webinar.] Most of these personal challenges come in the form of various kinds of discomforts in dealing with change. In the video below I address each of these core challenges and make some key coaching recommendations about how to future proof yourself.
Dealing with change is challenging for many reasons. Change challenges us to rethink and realign everything from our daily routine to our fundamental identity. Such realignment is a lot of work and takes a lot of energy! And the effort involved tends to make us put off dealing with change until we absolutely have to, which also leaves us vulnerable to being blindsided by changes that won’t wait for us to get ready for them. One thing is for certain, however, when we learn to make change a core skillset, the constant adjustments and shifts necessary to adjust and prepare for the uncertain future coming at us becomes a lot easier!
Here’s the short version of the video above. There are three primary reasons we don’t do the work to make change a way of life:
- Anxiety about the unknown: When you’re feeling anxiety about something it’s tempting to put your head in the sand and avoid looking at it. This is exactly how many people get surprised and swept away by changes others saw coming. To most people’s surprise, facing the anxiety, looking at it and learning to understand it defuses a lot of its power over you. Again, learning to reduce your anxiety by facing it takes some practice and support.
- No time!: Everyone is overwhelmed. No one “has time” to focus on anything the way they’d like to and to feel as prepared as they’d like to. But just like you get other important things done in your life, you must do this, too. The best strategy (see below) is to take it in small increments.
- No support: Exploring career and job changes is often uncomfortable to do with people close to you, your colleagues at work and your immediate family. Why is that? You’d think that these would be exactly the people who should want to help you. And of course they do, but your issues and anxieties tend to ricochet off theirs and make discomfort even more uncomfortable. The result is that too often, you feel isolated and alone when thinking about some of the subjects most important to you, even when surrounded by people who want you to succeed.
To future proof yourself you must address the discomforts above:
- Learn to surf: Yes, it’s easy to be anxious if you’ve been knocked over by some disruptive changes in the past, but think of yourself on a surfboard waiting for the waves to come in. You KNOW they’re coming, so start paying attention to them, prepare for them and get up on your board to practice some little waves before deciding to ride a big one. Learn to see the big ones coming and get out of the way if you’re not ready to ride them. Learning to surf changes in the job market can be fun when you think of it that way.
- Set aside time every month to check in with your goals: Big changes are traumatic when taken all at once. It’s like a newbie surfer who paddles out and tries to take the first gigantic wave that comes along. She’s not ready! She hasn’t prepared herself by watching the waves come in and the way other surfers handle them. She hasn’t been supported by surfer coaches and mentors who adviser her while she rides some little waves to get the feel of the wave. She just gets pounded instead. Break up your surfing lessons into smaller chunks and set a monthly goal — every month. In 12 months or less I guarantee you you’ll feel more future proofed and able to seek out the bigger waves when they come along.
- Get support from neutral third parties who care about your success: Your family and colleagues will support you along the way, but they’re not likely to be the ones to give you the resources and advice you need to knit together a future proofed identity and career plan. That’s not their job. But it is our job. Learn more about how we support you and help you future proof yourself the InPower Coaching Future-Proof Community.
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