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Reinventing Your Career in the Time of Coronavirus

April 27, 2020
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意想不到的事件或冲击打乱了我们的习惯,把我们从舒适区中唤醒,并引导我们问一些重要的问题,什么是值得做的。因此,难怪在当前的流感大流行期间,许多人都在重新思考自己的职业生涯。

但现在真的是时候吗?即使对我们这些幸运的人来说,没有生病,没有照顾其他生病的人,也没有勉强维持生计,这种流行病增加了不确定性,让我们在心理、经济和基础设施方面措手不及。形势很危险。而且,正如心理学家所表明的那样,威胁性的情况促使我们采取保守的行为——这与我们考虑换工作时所要求的恰恰相反。如果你厌恶风险或者担心自己的前途,那么很难全身心投入到职业生涯的重塑中去。

So how do we balance the pressing need to ensure basic survival — of our families and firms — with what may well be a growing urge to do something new after this crisis has subsided?

在过去的20年里,我一直在研究职业变化,这个时期经历了互联网的繁荣和萧条,2008年的金融危机,随后的长期牛市行情,现在是结束这种行情的大流行病。这段经历告诉我,一些简单的原则可以帮助那些经历过困难时期的人继续专注于重塑自己的职业。

发展许多可能的自我

When you don’t know what the future will bring, or when the path you thought you were on takes an unexpected turn, it makes sense to pursue a diverse portfolio of options rather than just sticking single-mindedly to one. Even in happier times, career change is never a perfectly linear process. It’s a necessarily messy journey of exploration — and to do it right, you have to experiment with, test, and learn about a range of possible selves.

Possible selves are the ideas we all have about who we might want to become. Some are concrete and well-informed by experience; others are vague and fuzzy, nascent and untested. Some are realistic; others are pure fantasy. And, naturally, some appeal more to us than others.

今天,通往下一个职业的道路比以往任何时候都更加曲折。为了覆盖你需要覆盖的所有领域,让你自己想象一组可能的自我和未来是至关重要的。接受这个过程,并尽可能多地探索它们。

拥抱“极限”期

The hallmark of the career-change process is the emotional experience of “liminality” — that is, of existing betwixt and between a past that is clearly gone and a future that is still uncertain. Liminality can be an unpleasant state to inhabit emotionally. People going through it feel unmoored, lose their bearings, and oscillate between “holding on” and “letting go.” But this fraught stage is a necessary part of the journey, because it allows you to process a lot of complex emotions and conflicting desires, and ultimately prevents you from shutting down prematurely and missing better options that still lie ahead.

当前的危机可能会延长我们许多人中间的这种状态。虽然有时令人沮丧,但国家也有它的好处。就像比尔·布里奇斯写的那样Transitions, “We need not feel defensive about this apparently unproductive time-out at turning points in our lives … In the apparently aimless activity of our time alone, we are doing important inner business.”

进一步的阅读

Neurological studies suggest that taking advantage of liminal time to do that “inner business” may be more beneficial than engaging in a flurry of busy-making self-improvement efforts. Downtime is crucial not only for replenishing the brain’s stores of attention and motivation but also for sustaining the cognitive processes that allow us to fully develop our humanity. It’s how we consolidate memories, integrate what we have learned, plan for the future, maintain our moral compass, and construct our sense of ourselves.

Get going on projects

最常见的职业重塑之路是做一些额外的事情——培养知识、技能、资源和人际关系,直到你在探索新的职业时有了强壮的新腿。在晚上和周末,人们参加兼职课程,做公益或咨询工作,并发展创业的想法。在我为我的书做的研究中Working Identity,这是一个关于职业重塑的主题,我发现大多数人同时研究几种可能性,比较和对比每种可能性的利弊。这项活动至关重要。它不仅能帮助你解决实际问题,还能帮助你解决那些推动职业转变的存在主义问题:我是谁?我想成为谁?我在哪里能做出最好的贡献?我们通过测试幻想和现实来了解自己想要成为什么样的人,当然,还有doing.

Our current conditions of quarantine and lockdown limit the possibilities, of course. People have long used contract or advisory work to explore new options or to finance new ventures, for example, but non-essential budgets are now drying up, and as a result many people are finding these avenues obstructed.

Nevertheless, under the present circumstances many people are finding it easier than before to reallocate time and resources to back-burner projects. Many people are already taking advantage of the moment. As part of a webinar I teach on career reinvention, I recently conducted an online poll asking participants to describe how they’re responding to the coronavirus crisis, and 50% of the 2000 people who responded reported that it has given them “opportunities to try new things or learn new skills.” In some cases, these new skills are directly related to working remotely. That’s certainly been the case for me: Like most of my faculty colleagues, I’ve had to quickly learn to teach online.

You don’t need to limit our projects to the domain of your desired career change. Many people today are doing rewarding work and making surprising discoveries by engaging in crisis initiatives at their organizations or in community volunteer efforts. The point is to do new and different work with new and different people, because that process represents an opportunity to learn about yourself, your preferences and dislikes, and the kinds of contexts and people that bring out the best in you.

Work your “dormant” ties

Networking is a contact sport, which makes it hard to play in a lockdown. Many people today are wondering how in the current environment they can initiate and build the relationships they need to reinvent themselves — relationships with people who may be struggling to adapt to difficult circumstances themselves.

The golden rule of networking for career change has always been to mobilize your weak ties — that is, the relationships you have with people you don’t know so well or don’t see very often, in order to maximize your chances of learning things you don’t know already. The problem with friends, family, and close coworkers — your strong ties — is that they know the same things you know. They’ll want to help you, of course, but they’re unlikely to be able to help you think creatively about your future. It’s more likely that they’ll pigeonhole you.

但是当你的领带很弱的时候,你会有一个陷阱。尽管这些人更有可能成为有用的新信息和资源的来源,但他们帮助你的积极性也可能会降低,尤其是当他们自己力不从心的时候。因此,在不确定的时期,人们更多地依赖于建立在承诺、信任和义务基础上的牢固关系。

So we have a weak tie/strong tie conundrum. One way around it is to make use of your “dormant ties” — the relationships with people who you were once close to but now haven’t been in contact with for roughly three years or more. In one study, more than 200 executives were asked to reconnect with such people and to use their interactions to get information or advice that might help them on an important work project. The executives reported that the advice they received from these dormant sources was on average more valuable and novel than what they obtained from their more-active relationships.

Talk it out

In the middle of the confusion that career change can bring, many of us hope that introspection will eventually produce a flash of blinding insight. But as I learned in myWorking Identityresearch, solitary introspection, when not coupled with active experimentation, is dangerous, because it can lead us to get stuck in the realm of daydreams — which, of course, provide neither gainful employment nor career fulfilment.

自我反省,矛盾的是,是一个最佳实践nourished by talking out loud in social exchanges with kindred spirits who respond, sympathize, commiserate, question, read your body language, and share their own experiences. One of the reasons potential career changers benefit so much from attending courses is that their fellow students represent a ready-made community of kindred spirits to talk to. Just the simple act of creating and telling a story about what you want to do, or why you want a change, can clarify your thinking and propel you forward, by committing you publicly to making a change. Any veteran storyteller will tell you that there’s no substitute for practicing in front of a live audience.

But even that is hard in the current context of self-isolation and social distancing. Still, with a bit of initiative and creativity, you can find ways to explain yourself out loud — by scheduling walks that respect social distance, by working with a career coach online, by creating a Zoom group that meets regularly to share plans.

最后,在这个危机时刻,当你要重塑自己的职业生涯时,记住这一点:现在是开始行动的时候,但不要孤军奋战。

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伊瓦拉is the Charles Handy Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School. Prior to joining LBS, she served on the INSEAD and Harvard Business School faculties. She is the author of像领导者一样行动,像领导者一样思考(Harvard Business Review Press, 2015) and工作认同:重塑职业生涯的非传统策略(哈佛商业评论出版社,2003年)。在Twitter上关注她@HerminiaIbarraand visit她的网站。


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