Who would have expected us to be avoiding mass gatherings, restaurants, be working from home and be quarantined all together just a few months ago? Who would have guessed that financial markets would plunge so dramatically and toilet rolls would become our most precious assets? Since the outbreak of COVID-19, our lives are really turning upside down, and there’s not much that we can do about it but follow the guidelines that the authorities and experts are suggesting or, in some cases, imposing on us.
However, it’s not all bad news, it shouldn’t be. If you look at things from a more positive lens, instead of being glued to the news reading about this outbreak 24/7, there are plenty of things that you could “catch-up” with, whilst waiting for this situation to be normalised.
Reconnecting with faraway friends
In a globalised world such as the one we’ve known to date, many of us have a wide network connection worldwide: people we studied with, worked with or just met at some point in our lives. However, life moves on quite quickly, and it’s hard to maintain those valuable connections as often as one would like to. Although you’ve had the good intention of reconnecting with your faraway friends, you somehow never managed to find the time. With the coronavirus outbreak, you might find yourself with more time than usual since you’re avoiding going to restaurants, musicals, and even the gym. Then why not use that time to reconnect with those you cherish and get to know how they’ve been doing lately?
Self-development comes in many shapes and forms, but ultimately, it’s about taking certain actions to either improve your skills, learn new skills or overcome bad habits. Some countries have already been put in a lock-down, where people are even being fined for leaving their homes without a justified reason. Although in the UK we’re not there yet, we know that a bland and boring period is coming. If we shift our perspective, we can make it far less bland and boring, though. Most of us have a list of skills we’d like to learn or improve somewhere in the back of our minds, whether it’s improving our communication skills or learning to code like a pro, we all have some hidden goals that we’ve never had the time to invest in.
Well, with the recent technology revolution, you’d be surprised by the amount of descent online courses out there. You’d even find many free or very affordable courses in FutureLearn, Linda, Udemy or Coursera. So, you have a really good opportunity now to up-skill yourself.
In my past life, when I was still working in the corporate world, I remember that every now and then when I felt unsatisfied with my job, I’d think to myself that I really needed to take few days off, isolate myself at some ranch with no communication, internet or whatsoever and think about where I am in life, where I want to be and how to get there. I know now that I was not the only one with such thoughts, I’ve met plenty of clients confessing similar thoughts during their coaching sessions. But this is easier said than done. How many of us purposefully take days off from our annual leave for self-reflection? We only have limited days a year to be on holidays, and we’re not going to “waste them” at an isolated ranch, are we? When things get stressful and you’re sitting in your office having second thoughts about your career-life, you might actually think of booking some nice holidays and use that time to reflect on your life and your career choices. But once you put your holiday hat on, whilst soaking under the sun with your brain marinated in wine, it’s hard to concentrate on hardcore subjects. Well, perhaps COVID-19 is the answer to all your dilemmas now. All of a sudden, you’re being asked to isolate yourself, but you’re not necessarily on holiday, so it’s only a matter of action now and not just intention. Self-reflection is an incredibly useful form of mental-gymnastics where one attempts to process complex and logical thoughts effortlessly, and like most things, the more often you attempt to do it, the better you get at it.
One straightforward way of putting your thoughts into perspective is making a list of all the things you have but you don’t want, and a list of the things that you want but you don’t have. This simple exercise could be a great starting point to know where to focus your energy first.
If you feel that your mind starts wandering around and you’re actually spending more time on social media than on your self-reflection, perhaps what you need is what I call a “guided self-reflection”. What I mean by this is to use the services of a professional coach, who would use the right questions to challenge you and would ensure that you’re not distracted and your thoughts are not wandering around at every opportunity throughout the session. At Fitin Skills, we offer tailor-made online coaching sessions that would help you win your mental battle in a safe environment. After a few sessions, your mind will be better trained to try this exercise on its own and actually manage to keep focus for a longer period of time.
March is a relatively high employee turnover period for most companies. A lot of people, especially in banking and finance, who want to change jobs feel tied to their current job due to their bonuses, which are typically paid out sometime in Q1. But once you receive your bonus, you’re free to flee. Needless to say, this year, with the current health crisis, job-hunting opportunities might not look as bright as they would otherwise. But the job-market hasn’t necessarily been paralysed, especially in the banking and consulting sectors. Afterall, salary budgets were approved in December and the hiring processes have started anyway. Whilst you might end up doing all your interviews online, or the recruitment process might take longer than usual, it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen at all. So, take this extra time that you have to update your CV, to search and apply for jobs and to purposefully prepare for your interviews, as it would be a rather wise thing to do.
These are just a few ways in which you can use the extra time created by COVID-19 to your advantage. Despite being isolated from friends and family, there’s still plenty of things you can do during this uncertain time to put you ahead of your game once things get back to normal. The key attitude here is to look at how you can impact more and worry less rather than the other way around.