Right now, as never in our lifetimes, we need to remain optimistic – Tim Watson-Munro
The quest to increase our optimism in the COVID 19 World may seem a long shot. However, maintaining an optimistic outlook has been claimed by many to be an essential weapon in the mental and medical warfare against the Global Pandemic. Being in career transition is challenging by itself – add on to that the additional stress of Covid-19 and the need for Optimism is even greater.
On a daily basis, we read surreal headlines about numbers of people throughout the world being severely afflicted by this deadly disease – physically, emotionally and financially. As countries have closed their borders and airports and restricted the commercial activities and movement of their people, millions find themselves suffering loss of income, businesses or worse – the loss of their own health or that of their loved ones.
The importance of being optimist for your career
The whole concept of embracing optimism is then a tough one to adopt in the midst of a rapidly worsening medical state of emergency and a crushing economic crisis.
But optimism is, in fact, realism and history shows that this is the only really sensible approach to move forwards. As a species, we have a long track record of victory over great trials and tribulations and amidst the dark shadows of tragedy, our over-riding trait is to keep the flame of optimism burning brightly. Looking back over history, the human race has always thrived after some major world event and it is widely believed that this will not be an exception. Working on maintaining optimism during Career Transition is key, it can help you keep moving forward towards your goals instead of spiralling into negativity.
So, in the face of the global standstill and the increased levels of stress and anxiety – how do we maintain or actually increase optimism? The answer lies in consciously reframing our thinking on the permanency, pervasiveness and our own level of power in the situation.
As we consider the COVID 19 crisis, there are 3 questions we can ask about the situation and our own personal challenges within it …
- Is this Permanent or is it Temporary?
- The situation will NOT last forever … the world will not end. At some point, countries will establish control over the spread of the disease, vaccinations and cures will be found and the wheels of trade and industry will roll again.
- As crushing and demoralising as redundancies and business losses may be, it is rare that an individual has little hope of future employment or business opportunity.
- As stressful as e-learning may be for parents involved in home schooling, we know that at some point schools will reopen.
- Is this Pervasive or is it Isolated?
- There is little doubt that COVID 19 is highly contagious and deadly and we are aware that we must physically isolate to prevent it pervading the full population. The effects of this isolation inevitably affect our personal and professional lives. However, human beings prove time and time again that they have the ability to adjust and find fulfilment and enrich their lives whether this be in times of war, personal bereavement or financial hardship.
- Business closures and job losses rank among the highest in a whole range of emotion – denial, anger, frustration but eventually settling into acceptance, adaptation and an emotional and practical rebalancing. Going through these different stages during career transition process is a normal part of the process so it’s good to be aware of your own emotions as you go through them realising the more positive stages to come.
- Are we Powerless to do anything or is Effort required?
- As human beings we are never powerless. Restrictions, challenges and setbacks will be present, not only at times of Global Pandemic, but as we move through the trials and tribulations of everyday life. But we always have the innate ability to deploy energy, creativity and resilience to overcome obstacles. This “breakthrough” thinking is about identifying and accepting things that we are unable to change, and focusing on other aspects to find options, solutions and opportunities to move us forward – whether this be new career directions, alternative ways of communicating or working or adapting lifetyles. In the words of Antoine de Saint Exupery’s little prince: “Droit devant soi, on ne peut pas aller bien loin” – If we keep on going in a straight line, we won’t get very far”
Whilst not everyone is a born an optimist, we all have a choice in how we view any situation. Asking ourselves these simple questions about the permanence, pervasiveness and potential for human effort is the key to reframing our thinking, increasing optimism and laying the foundation to overcoming seemingly overwhelming challenges. At times your job search can be overwhelming and learning to increase your optimism will not only help you through career transition but these principles can be applied during any difficult circumstance
Catherine is a Senior Consultant at LHH Gulf. She has a background in marketing and business management working in the UK Financial Services Industry. Since 2004, Catherine has been based in the Middle East and has worked with a range of clients in supporting the optimisation of talent – specifically in Leadership and Team Development, Business Communication and Career Management