Right now, it’s easy to feel a bit limited. We’ve been in lockdown to some varying degree since March. Many have faced job loss. Others have faced increasing pressures to do more with less and juggle to keep things going at work and at home. It’s easy to give into fear and the feeling that we are not in control. 

While it’s true we are not in control of the pandemic or the economy, we do still have control over our attitudes, our efforts and our time. 

Where are you putting your energy and efforts? 

Despite the many unknowns, you still get to decide what your long-term goals are. You still get to decide what skills you most want to foster. So, whether you are out of work, treading water, or rocking and rolling in our new normal, I sincerely urge you to take a hard look at your long game. 

First, you must ask yourself, “What’s next?” The answer to this may come a year from now or urgently. 

Then you must discover where you are exactly in terms of your career development. There are four stages to consider:

  1. Know Yourself (Self-awareness and Self-assessment): This is the “taking stock” stage. Get honest with yourself and define your skills, talents, traits, experience and expertise and determine how they measure up to your short-term and long-term ambitions. Are there gaps? Are there skills and strengths you are not using? Where do you need to grow? Who are you and what are your values? What’s the personal brand you are building?
  2. Explore Options (What’s out there?): From job opportunities to industry trends and educational requirements, when’s the last time you really explored where you are and your next steps? If you are job searching, it’s so important not to just dive in and skip the exploration stage. For everyone, now is an excellent time to get in touch with the trends in your industry. There have never been more options for networking, learning and credentialing. What added training would give you a leg up? How can you learn more and invest in yourself? What professional organizations could help you grow and build your network?
  3. Get Focused (Planning and Prioritizing): Decide where you are consciously going to grow. Set specific goals. Break your goals down into action items. What is most important? What will be most impactful? What is the best ROI? Who can help and support you? What small steps can you take right away? What requires additional research or planning? How will you measure success? How will you celebrate new milestones?
  4. Take Action (Future-ready and Forward-focused): Put what you want out there. Ask for assistance and advice where appropriate. Position your professional profile to match your new goals. Enroll in a course. Get certified. Take on a new project. Start a side hustle. Join a board. Volunteer. Attend a networking event. Embrace a new talent or hobby. Subscribe to a journal. Write an article. Read a professional development book. Update your resume. Apply for the job. Ask for a meeting. Take a step forward! 

By focusing on the long-term and your big picture career vision, you will start to free yourself up in the present moment. Set time aside to be intentional and you will start to see a shift from stuck to stepping forward with renewed energy and optimism. 

Pandemic or not, it’s just too easy to fall into the trap of going through the motions in our work life without real intention and focus on our long-term goals. The more time you spend getting clear about who you are and what you want, the more attuned you will be to opportunity. The world has more in store for you than being stuck at home! I promise. 

This post was originally published on Her Nexx Chapter. Christine helped launch Her Nexx Chapter’s virtual platform for women as their first virtual coach. She served as the Career Development subject matter expert and host of the monthly program, Her Career Catalyst.