Sometimes in our lives, ambiguity reigns. Whether faced with the diagnosis of a potentially devastating medical illness, navigating job and life change, enduring the passing of a loved one, accepting a recently failed marriage, or responding to a global pandemic, how to keep moving forward, or even sideways–when our world about us seems to be crumbling, is difficult. Regardless of the situation, it is important to find a zen but actionable approach during these uncertain times.
Besides the obvious uncertainty spurred by COVID-19, many of the struggles that people already had been facing pre-pandemic–or have been facing since–are unrelated to the healthcare crisis. Albeit, in most instances, the coronavirus has been happy to insinuate itself into those otherwise unique struggles, too.
Scrambling for a Plan of Action
For example, just weeks before the coronavirus shutdowns began, my husband, Rob, and I learned that his General Sales Management role at a local boat dealership was no longer his. Being let go from a job that he had seriously and deliberately researched and questioned before taking the leap just six months earlier was a virtual punch in the gut. My husband wrote about his experience here: Change is …
We scrambled for a plan of action that included his nimbly accepting a new role in a town 40 miles away and putting our house on the market. This spurred a series of conversations around where we would move to position him closely to his new office while also enabling our lake-life to continue to thrive. (We currently live 200 yards from the shores of Lake Texoma; we intentionally uprooted our lives and his job 9 years ago, when we relocated from Kansas City, MO, to Gordonville, Texas. Change is in our blood. Rob’s cat-like ability to maneuver through job transition continually impresses me.)
Then, with the (temporary) shuttering of businesses recently, my husband came home to shelter in place for a bit, help me with my business, work on home improvement projects and reevaluate our next steps.
As are many stories of change, ours continually evolves. This includes our deep-dive conversations and strategic action steps and the exhaustive travel we’ve done to map out our next city of residence and Rob’s next career adventure–all while amid a pandemic.
The Evolvement of Best-Laid Plans
In fact, just last week, while the ink was still fresh on a buyer’s contract on our home, we drove 8 hours south to Corpus Christi, TX, to explore potential new digs. We figured, if we were going to move anyway to restart or even transform Rob’s career, we might as well move BIG.
Adding to this decision is the fact we are both in a certain decade of life that makes us think this could chronologically be our last large move.
And, after all, our initial plans, when re-planting our lives at Lake Texoma nearly a decade ago, were to explore this area awhile and then move further down south to the coast. Originally, our coastal goals were Florida, but a variety of life experiences and evolvements–not the least of which have included our passion for Texas culture–rerouted us to the southernmost coast of Texas, Corpus Christi.
Just one day into our Gulf Coast travel, however, we received a call from our real estate agent that the potential purchasers of our home at Lake Texoma, had backed out of the contract (on the final day of a legal 10-day cooling-off period). We weren’t shocked, necessarily, based on some wrinkles in the negotiations, but nonetheless, it was a bit unsettling. We continued our site visit, however, drinking in luxurious time on the sandy Gulf Coast beaches while also meeting with a local real estate agent on Padre Island, regarding potential rental homes on the canal.
It was actually quite an exciting adventure–punctuated with a few surprises and undulating emotions–I found myself rotating between being enlivened by the trip and being physically exhausted. In the end, we narrowed down our target properties, including a darling rental beach house we felt would be perfect for temporary living quarters upon our initial relocation.
My heart was filled up with hope. I felt the same surge of inspiration also flowing from my husband.
The Ebb and Flow of Confidence
Confident our cabana would sell, we were not surprised that on our drive back to Lake Texoma, we already were receiving another call with an offer. Long-story-short, that potential opportunity conversation was short-lived, as it wasn’t a fit for our goals. We’ve continued our discussion around our next steps and how to more strategically address the sale of the house.
Even, whether we should be making this physical move at all. The interesting thing is, whether we relocate to Corpus Christi now or not, we still are contemplating big moves in some fashion or another. Our particular focus is on how to merge our work-lives even more than we have in the past 9 years, and involves the lake, the ocean and Rob’s more entrepreneurial career taking root.
All this, during yet another impassioned conversation while unwinding on the newly enhanced deck during this gorgeous, sunny spring weather. (Note: This is not our main deck, just one of several that Rob has built to create our rambling, interconnected lake oasis.)
What has been interesting in the last couple of days is how our minds, while filled with uncertainty and often wrought with angst attached to the combined job loss and pandemic, also are creatively sparked to consider new and exciting options that heretofore, had not been considered–perhaps (likely) would not have unfolded and blossomed in the way they have without the stress of the storms.
Resilience and Hope While Navigating Job and Life Change
Most of our ideas and action plans are about resilience, hope and need, aligning well with the types of processes my executive career change clients experience. Here’s what I mean.
- We’ve spun solutions that buoy our work and life blend plan. We outline, expand upon, research, amend and dip our toes in the water of these ideas. We take action.
Similarly, executives in job transition should take time to navigate all their feelings, needs and goals to build a new career opportunity path that melds their professional and personal goals. Preview opportunities and be unabashed to get traction on an area, even if you are uncertain of long-term commitments to those specific ideas.
- We’ve responded with agility, even when the first response may need to be scrapped later, or simply rebuilt and refined.
Being agile doesn’t mean being thoughtless, but it does mean allowing yourself to be creative and to move quickly through certain aspects of the thinking. You must do this in order to get a loose plan of action outlining next steps and even building a framework that may later need gutted and rebuilt. An upside is it helps you to refine your vision and the actionable outcomes you need to get to your goals. And, when next steps don’t pan out, executives can leverage the best of their talents–agility and taking action, as well as skills in turnaround and pivoting.
- We’ve taken gut punches, rested, cried, cried out to God and then rebounded.
Know that you will inevitably encounter emotional pain amid the change process. Allow yourself the space to cry and to cry out for support.
- We’ve revisited our prior storied chapters and achievements to help imbue the next chapter of our lives: early motivations, results and how they connect us and springboard us to our next-phase goals. Here are a few blog posts that tell much of our story leading up to today:
HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.
Similarly, executive career change requires deep introspection, unearthing of what you did, what you achieved and how you overcame challenges to get to the results. This will imbue your story which further buoys opportunities. People who do the hiring are human beings wired to want to know your who, what, where, when, how and the results — and how that impacts their future needs and current pain points.
- We’ve selectively and intentionally, and sometimes even spontaneously, shared aspects of our challenge with those people we trust to gain outside perspective, and were moved by their insights. This has had a meaningful impact on shaping ongoing, personal conversations and private thoughts, leading to further decision-making.
Similarly, executive careerists in the midst of change and decision-making should strongly consider opening up their sensitive conversations and thoughts to trusted resources, both personal and professional, in order to gain clarity and insight. This will compel momentum in the right direction.
Despite the roller-coaster ride of pandemonium both at the global level and on the front-lines in our own home, we seem to continue to climb back to the place of hope and imagination. Even since beginning the writing of this blog post article two days ago, Rob and I have further evolved our plan of action–and we are enthusiastic and momentum-driven.
Anticipating What’s Next
We look forward to what’s next, and we are exuding hope and taking action on specific next steps toward a goal that we envision both exciting and liberating, and in line with our values.
It is our sincere desire that you, too, are finding light amid the sometimes dim path we are required to traverse amid work and life disruption. We aspire to share our lives in a way that articulates both the uncertainties of our world with the certainty of possibility–that our stories of how we are navigating the ambiguity of job and life change in some small way encourage you forward, with hope.
Navigating job and life change without a compass can be difficult at best, impossible at worst, leading many people into an abyss of ambiguity. CareerTrend has a two-decade track record of helping executives clarify their experiences, telling an actionable story that propels them forward. Contact us today for a custom executive resume quote. Our certified career experts will help you get moving in the right direction.
~Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Chief Career Storyteller + Certified Master Resume Writer // Owner, CareerTrend