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When you look back at 2020, what’s your story going to be?

When you look back at 2020, what’s your story going to be?

It would be easy for us to look back at 2020 with shaken heads and pained hearts, feeling rather bruised. But it’s important to remember, especially whilst we’re in the midst of it all, that this uncertainty is only a tiny chapter in our lives – by no means is it the whole book! 

When something doesn’t go as planned, the important step is to move from being the victim to taking action. Think about the things that we can control during uncertainty, and those that we can’t.

What situation is your career in right now? 

You might be on furlough, or facing redundancy as a result of COVID-19 and the cuts businesses are having to make. You might be facing uncertainty over the future of your organisation, or perhaps you’ve been forced to step up and cover multiple roles. 

Take a moment, grab a pen and paper, and write down your current career situation. 

Remember, we’re not writing a book! Firstly think about how your current situation is making you feel. Are you under pressure, over stretched, feeling lost, panicked or uncertain about the future? Whatever you’re feeling, you’re not alone! This is affecting everyone in some way or another. 

Now, think about the elements that are within your control. 

What can you control, and steer in the direction you wish, during these shaky times?  

One fantastic example is Captain Tom. He steered his zimmer frame round his garden 100 times just before his 100th birthday, and in the process raised more than £32 million for the NHS. What an incredible achievement. How long do you think Captain Tom sat in his armchair feeling down and lonely, before getting up and deciding to do something positive about it? And now he’s getting knighted! What an amazing thing to have done. The outpouring of support made his activity even more meaningful and a beacon of hope for all. If you haven’t already, you can read more about this inspiring centenarian here.

Captain Tom
Captain Tom, pictured by EPA via BBC.co.uk

Coronavirus hasn’t just brought us scary headlines and uncertainty.

It’s brought us better set ups for remote working, enforced speed and innovations, improved our air quality and reduced pollution levels, and forced us to work more efficiently from any location. It’s also given us more time for our personal lives, due to less travel and commuting time. 

 So, what’s your 2020 story going to be?

Is this extraordinary year going to define you, or are you going to define it? Captain Tom was certainly not going to let his 99th year be defined by the coronavirus!

If you’re faced with more time on your hands than usual, make the most of it. It’s giving you room for creative and/or personal growth. I realise that sometimes that’s easier said than done, but achievement triggers more achievement. Even if that’s just getting those pesky DIY jobs ticked off, getting out in the garden to do some weeding, learning to bake sourdough bread or another new skill.  It will lift your mood, your productivity, and help you to take control of this time off. 

What can you do during this time that you will be proud of? 

You may have found yourself stuck in a rut like many of my clients. What action could move you on from that rut? What can you do that you will be proud of? Once you’ve taken the leap you’ll find that things will snowball – achievement triggers more achievement – and you might just find new areas of your life that have newfound energy. 

For me, that’s meant decorating, and gardening! All things that I previously really disliked. Now you can’t keep me out of the garden – sowing seeds, painting old plant pots bright blue and weeding. I have been reflecting on what these new activities give me. I find it gives me a purpose, and a place to switch off completely from work and the news. To forget for a moment that my movements outside my home are restricted. In addition, my newfound activity has allowed me to be useful and support others. Helping clients who are facing career uncertainty, doing errands for a self-isolating neighbour, having Zoom calls to friends and family around the world. The energy it’s giving me is  amazing! 

What other good things have come from this crisis and the uncertainty it has brought?

I got to see the hatching of our annual swan cygnets! I have lived here for 20 years and missed this every year so far. I see her sitting on her nest for six to seven weeks, but then I always miss the main event. But this year, I got to watch as seven little cygnets peeked out at the world for the first time from under her wing. What an achievement – for her and for me! 

If you want to use the time for personal development, here are some tips (along with a personal development scale) you might find useful! 

How can we do things a little differently, so that we can take advantage of the uncertainty and maintain our business or career? 

It’s important that we move from being a victim to being part of the solution, and as an active participant. So instead of waiting for something to happen (which it’s now clear could take a while), think about what you can do in the next few weeks and months. 

Your job role today is not the same as it will be next month, or next year. There will be lasting effects of coronavirus, and it’s almost impossible to predict what these might be. Everything changes, and if you define it through stretching yourself and seeing what it brings, rather than what it takes away, you will lead yourself and others onto greater achievements.

Our action today informs the path we take tomorrow. Don’t waste a second!