Are you tired? Bored? Frustrated? Burned out?
All of the above?
As the pandemic drags on, everyone is feeling some (or all) of these things. We've worked all the crossword puzzles, we've baked and eaten bread until the only pants that fit are ones we normally sleep in and we feel that one more Zoom meeting may push us over the edge.
I have a solution for many of you.
It's learning. Not learning as in "I'm going to learn how to crochet" or "I'm going to learn how to speak Klingon."
This kind of learning is aimed at helping you professionally, to making you more valuable to employers now and in the future. Because trust me on this: When the economy picks back up and employers begin hiring again, they're going to look at what job candidates did in their pandemic time at home. Did they expand their waistlines or did they expand their learning and skills?
Which one do you think will make the better impression on employers?
Think of it like this: When you were a kid, you were learning all the time. Your little brain was open to all the world had to offer, whether it was exploring what was under a rock or learning to read. You used every opportunity to ask "why?" It was fun, wasn't it? It wasn't a hardship. It made you happy to learn so you kept at it.
Unfortunately, as we grow up, that learning enthusiasm fades. As adults, we often become too narrowly focused on what's on our "to do" list. We forget to look around and ask "why?" We don't use our everyday conversations or opportunities to try to learn something, to try and expand our abilities or skills.
Whether you're unemployed and employed, invest in yourself and your career by being a continual learner. It will pay off -- you will be happier and more satisfied during a stressful time in our lives -- and employers will appreciate your efforts. On top of that, your learning efforts can lead to better pay and a more satisfying career.
Here are some things to get you started:
- Think of people you admire. Often, we think we're "not smart enough" or just "not good at" certain skills, like public speaking or starting a business. But if you look into the background of those you admire, they didn't just luck into being a good speaker or running a successful company. They worked at it. They perhaps took classes that helped them improve. They relied on the advice of others. They asked lots of questions and studied the answers to learn more. Consider some skills possessed by people you admire and how you'd like to have those same skills. Do you need to take online classes? Read books on the subject? Attend webinars? Connect with someone through LinkedIn to ask advice?
- Take off your blinders -- and put down your phone. Look around and start getting curious. When you go for a walk, stand in line at the store or wait for the coffee maker to finish, let your mind wander. Don't look at your phone! Every time you pick up your phone like it's your binky, put it down. A big part of learning something new comes from simply letting your mind wander and search out new things.
- You're braver than you know. A year ago, the world was a different place. We've been scared -- and are still scared -- but we've powered through it. Every day we get up and do what needs to be done. That's something to acknowledge, because it shows that all of us are capable to doing hard -- often scary -- things. So, don't let your fear of going for a big project or a promotion hold you back. Stretching yourself is important if you want to grow in your career.
- Set goals. Don't set lofty, vague goals such as "I want to be vice president at my company in the next five years." Instead, think about key connections that need to be made within your company and how you will make them. Or, determine if you're going to need more education to have such a position and when you can start classes.
- Pursue feedback. Many successful CEOs say they have a personal "board of directors" that offer them advice and feedback. If you want to truly grow in your career, then you've got to be held accountable. This doesn't mean your annual performance review by your boss. This kind of feedback is meant to keep you on target no matter where you're employed and is given by those who understand your career vision and how to best get there.