I don’t need to say it, but times are tough. The changes we have experienced are enough to make anyone run for the hills. And maybe that’s actually not such a bad idea right now, TBH. But as much as you may want to abandon your life and go live full-time on a beach somewhere, there is such a thing called reality. I know, buzzkill. Since these you-know-what times aren’t going back to any semblance of normal soon, it’s time to be practical, consider your options, and make things work.
The good news is, there isn’t only one way to get ahead now. Consider these five creative approaches from the utterly practical (Nike’s “just do it”) to the spiritual (calling on your higher powers) to support your future plans. Your best approach to life and work depends on your current circumstances and needs, skill set, and risk tolerance.
1. Embrace Your Skills—Become A Technical Specialist
Which new technologies can you master right now to become the “go-to” expert in a specific area or tool that is in high demand? Are you a digital marketer or data analyst to the stars (using the term “stars” aspirationally here)? This can be your time to shine! Consider all your current skills to see which ones can fill the demands that companies have right now. For instance, helping companies get online successfully as they move their businesses away from brick-and-mortar stores can be a game-changer. Are there other specialized tools or specific software programs used in your current role, business, or industry that may be critical to ongoing business operations? Identify the sweet spot that you can capitalize on, then let people know how you can help them.
LinkedIn’s list of the ten most in-demand hard skills for 2020 ranges from blockchain to cloud computing to UX design. But if you don’t have these skills now, don’t sweat it. There are a ton of online training courses available, and many are free on YouTube. Additional resources like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare, UDemy, Harvard classes from EdX (what, like it’s hard?) are great online tools with so many classes to offer. And according to Forbes, the soft skills you’ll need to succeed in a post-COVID world might not require classes—adaptability, flexibility, critical thinking, and creativity are all things you can practice on your own. Remember, your goal is to become both valued and immediately applicable to potential customer needs.
Power Tip: Don’t forget to brand and capitalize on your expertise by seeding relevant “key words” about your new focus throughout your LinkedIn profile and social media so the AI searches and algorithms identify you as the best potential fit for those seeking your skill set.
2. Follow The Money
Let’s get real: why not be an opportunist? Dig deeper into where the needs for talent are right now. If you’re flexible enough to go where the opportunities are, you can find project-based work. “Have a valid passport, willing to travel”—I see you, Carmen Sandiego. You get the picture—you could get hired to work on important, time-sensitive initiatives that often pay well. Depending on your personality, you also follow your desire to serve. There is likely to be a huge demand for teachers, healthcare workers, and others who know how to deal with trauma and personal service right now as others are hesitant to return to work.
Look at your flexibility and tolerance for risk. Obviously, moving can create opportunities, but is not without higher risks from changing conditions. If you’re amenable, check out other cities and countries, or switch industries. (Might not be such a bad idea to get an international visa… just saying…)
3. From WTF To WFH: Shift To Remote Work Altogether
It’s no surprise that most work is moving online in some ongoing capacity. You probably already know how to work Zoom, but are you comfortable working virtually? There are even more opportunities beyond the “gig economy” as the need for global services increases if you can be time-zone agnostic. There are also multiple platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, and other on-demand freelance websites that connect customers with service providers. Consider working remotely for a company directly, or maybe it’s time to work for yourself. If you’re creative and don’t mind the hours you work or prefer working from home, remote work lets you work wherever you are, and in some cases, whenever you want. That means never having to change out of your PJs.
Many digital skills transfer seamlessly across industries. More jobs are conducted with tele-support, no longer requiring face time or presence in a physical work space. According to U.S. News, careers in software and web development, IT management, and accounting are especially good choices for those working remotely because they can be done virtually anywhere with computer access. But currently, some of the most popular remote positions are accountant, customer service representative, project manager, nurse, and writer—which means that there’s a pretty wide range of industries well-suited to this kind of work. So if you don’t mind having technology become your life line (as if it’s not already), consider ongoing WFH to give you more flexibility. What a time saver to create more time, reduce your commute and still add value.
4. Become A Minimalist
…and not just because Marie Kondo says it will spark joy. A smaller footprint is not only good for the environment, but it will also minimize the space you need, which can save you money in the long run. How? Less weight and obligations lower your cost base, which translates into needing less income. Smaller spaces equate to lower rent.
Power Tip: What do you value about your lifestyle? Is it time to focus more on “being” than “doing”? Which begs the question, what is the meaning and significance of work in your life? Looking at the type of work you want to be doing in the world will open up a whole new set of possibilities for how you might live.
5. Start Living Within Your Means
No, really. Why not question everything? When you look at what you need to live and survive (financially, spiritually), maybe there are ways you can cut back. When the economy was on an upswing, money was easy and more was more. That was then; this is now. Perhaps it’s time to consider that less is more.
Power Tip: Bring your spending in line with your income. Where can you reduce your outlays to become more thoughtful? Maybe cheap is the new smart. The more you put into your savings and the lower your costs, the easier it will be to weather a storm. With few people having enough savings to last a month, now is an important time to pad (or start) that emergency fund to provide an extra cushion to extend your ability to get through a period of financial hardship that may be longer than expected.
Only you will know what is the best way for you to adapt to change right now. This truly is an opportunity to focus on what makes sense for you. By knowing what you care about and value, you can make choices that position you for the future. Taking steps that are both practical and personal will equip you to become more resilient to face future challenges.
Image: Magnet.me / Unsplash