The latest job market report presents a cautiously optimistic picture as employers bring millions of workers back to work after pandemic-induced layoffs. But even though the unemployment rate has fallen from 14.7 percent in April to a current 13.3 percent, tens of millions remain out of work, and job losses have far exceeded that of the Great Recession.
Recent developments have disrupted the business landscape as we know it. A disruption of this caliber requires solutions; in many cases, a complete operational or personal transformation.
Changing direction and letting go of something that we were so invested in is rather hard.
“Such losses, particularly when related to long-term psychological or financial investments, are often associated with negative feelings such as anger and low spirits,” says Prof. Guy Doron, a Clinical Psychologist and Senior Researcher at IDC, and co-founder of GG Life, a personalized digital mental health tool. “These reactions are natural and often associated with healthy mourning processes. After the initial shock, it’s time to reassess and start the rebuilding process.”
Gali Bloch Liran, a performance coach for entrepreneurs and an advisor to startups, adds,
“It’s not easy to let go of an idea you had about yourself and about your work, especially after you put in so much. But sometimes, the right thing to do is to pause, breathe, re-evaluate your business and your dreams, and then make a new plan which includes new creative directions. Accepting change is a state of mind that we all have to embrace and accept into our lives,” she says. “The biggest lesson we all learned from the Coronavirus crisis is one that entrepreneurs know quite well: we all need to learn how to live with uncertainty. Change requires the ability to be flexible.”
The rebuilding process that many of us must undergo is not that simple and demands both mental and professional efforts. In order to get it right, here are 5 critical steps to take in the process:
After years of developing strong beliefs about who we are professionally, about the way we work, after creating and implementing a strategy suitable to the market in which we operate, along came the Corona pandemic and shook us to the core. “This new reality has pushed us out of our comfort zone and in many cases, it has challenged the way we look at ourselves, others and the world,” says Prof. Doron. “Such changes are often associated with an increased sense of threat and feelings of anxiety. They reduce our cognitive resources and bias our evaluation of future challenges, making them seem more threatening.”
Bloch argues that letting go does not mean that all is lost and there is no alternative to starting over: “There is a saying ‘Without the past, there is no future,’ and indeed, it’s very important to learn from our past experiences. However, getting stuck in the past won’t help us move forward. We have to live here and now, and adapt ourselves.” Letting go of our very recent goals does not mean we need to let go of our dream. We need to let go of the path we paved towards it and create a new one. “It’s okay to hold on to the past for a certain amount of time. Be gentle with yourselves, map out your fears and negative beliefs, and then focus on what you can do. You’ll find out you have many strengths and assets to lean on.”
Before letting go of our initial work plan, we need to have a clear picture of the new realities. “Notice the dialogue with yourself and how your thoughts impact your feelings and actions,” Prof. Doron suggests. “Try differentiating between your thoughts, fears or theories, and the real facts. In times of threat and uncertainty, we tend to be much more negative in our interpretations of reality.”
Bloch recommends that we “start by mapping out the situation in an objective way. Look at concept, financials, products, tech, operations, etc. Put it all down on paper. Then put it all into an excel sheet. Add numbers or assumptions. The text will reflect your feelings and passions, the numbers will reflect reality and constraints. Then, you can make smart decisions combining all factors.” According to Bloch, this way we can recognize the blind spots and have a clearer understanding of our current position.
“Research suggests that one of the strongest predictors of resilience is seeking social support in times of need,” says Prof. Doron, and recommends consulting and confiding with people you trust. “It’s particularly important to put it on the table: all of us need help, these days, even more than ever. There’s no shame in consulting with people that can help us cope, be proactive and see different angles. Sometimes, we need someone to help us get to higher ground, where the view is clearer. Make sure you are surrounded by the right people, who want you to succeed, appreciate you and will help you, and not those who are jealous, cynical, energy drainers, or find it hard to say something nice.
Initiate coffee (or Zoom) meetings with colleagues or friends. When you talk about it, people will open up to you, and you will see you are not alone in this. In addition, some very good ideas and initiatives can come from the people you talk to. Don’t be afraid to network with people. It will make you feel alive and significant, and the wheels will start to turn.”
They say that what defines us is how fast we get up after falling. We all realize these are times for resilience. Practically, it is time to improve your learnability. If you are an entrepreneur, resilience is probably in your DNA. You take risks, you know what it means to work with uncertainty and practically speaking, you never played it safe. “Learnability is the most important skill nowadays” Bloch insists. “Tell yourself all the ways in which you are talented and draw on these strengths and personal assets. I believe that strengthening the resilience of a startup is the number one factor that ensures its success and growth.”
Change Your Perspective:
The virus may have seriously set your company back, but it can also become a catalyst for growth and progress. “Changes are never easy, but with every change, there’s an opportunity for growth and new beginnings,” concludes Bloch as she offers a new perspective that may lead us to take better actions. “Don’t let go of your dream – pivot it. A shop can turn into an online service; a restaurant can offer catering services, a new service can become a SaaS. In this sense, I think we should all embrace the agility and flexibility of startups, think and act lean, and reinvent ourselves as reality dictates. You will be surprised at the abilities that you discover exactly in times like this.”
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