I’m a career coach, so when COVID hit, I braced myself for an onslaught of out-of-work job seekers needing help landing jobs fast.

And make no mistake, with recent layoffs, this has been the case.

Yet I’ve noticed another surprising phenomenon the COVID quarantine has had on the professional women I work with.

Many are reaching out to me, quietly admitting that this downtime has had them rethinking their career paths.

The pandemic has forced them off the hamster wheel of intense commutes, 10-hour work days, and office intensity.

They’ve allowed themselves to reflect on their current careers.

You know… all that inner work that we were too busy for before.

Now I’m hearing professionals ask things like….

“Is this what I want to be doing for the next 15 years?”

“I could get used to working remotely, having more downtime, being with my family.”

“I’m dreading going back to the office. Maybe I don’t WANT to go back to the way things were.”

When we are faced with life and death scenarios such as COVID, we start to reflect on what really matters.

The truth is, we spend one third of our lives at work.

Do we want to feel full of purpose and vigor? Excited to fling the sheets off the bed in the morning and get our day started?

Or miserable, numb, full of angst and dread?

I invite you to check out 6 ways to use this down time to reflect and explore where your career path could ultimately lead.

1. Meet Your Future Self

Close your eyes…. And imagine meeting a version of your future self.

This future self is the best possible version of you that you could be.

She is in an extraordinary career she loves. She is glowing, happy, successful, and radiates inner peace.

You ask her what life and career is like for her now? What steps did she take to get there? What was the first step she took?

Oftentimes your future self has words of wisdom for you.

2. Unpack Your Past

You’ve been visited by the “Ghost of your Career Future” and now it’s time for a visit from the “Ghost of your Career Past.”

Don’t discard your past. Learn from it.

It’s important to understand…..

1) What did you love about each job? (Let’s replicate that.)

2) What are you no longer willing to tolerate about each job? (Let’s avoid that.)

Your job history holds massive clues to your job future.

3. State of Flow

Have you ever been in a state of flow?

Time seems to fly. You could do that particular activity forever.  

Think of different job functions that you love doing. You look forward to doing. It may currently be the smallest slice of your day, but grab onto this clue.

The goal is to identify careers where you can increase the amount of time spent doing these specific job functions where you are in a state of flow.

I challenge you to begin to notice these glimmers throughout your day.

4. Values

When there is a misalignment between your values and your career, you will feel a sense of angst and discomfort.

It’s important to first identify what your values are.  

My personal values include autonomy, freedom, and passion.  

I realized that my previous role in corporate communications was a complete mismatch. I had little autonomy and certainly didn’t feel a sense of freedom or passion around what I did.

As a career coach, the work I do is now perfectly aligned with my values.

What are your career values? Are you living them?

5. Strengths

What are you naturally gifted at doing?

Think about the parts of your current job or previous jobs that you could do in your sleep.

Where are others constantly coming to you for help?

This is an important clue for your next career.

When you step into a role that allows you to maximize your strengths, you have a much higher likelihood of success and satisfaction.  

6. Personal Mission Statement

When you sign on to a job, by default, you are signing on to their mission statement.

This needs to be the other way around.

You need to start with YOU. What’s your personal mission statement? What were you put on this earth to do?

Define your “why.”  

What’s that one thing that would get you excited to rip the sheets off on a Monday and get to work?  

Once you have your personal mission statement, you then want to reverse engineer it as it pertains to your dream job.

In other words, seek out companies whose mission statement aligns with yours.

Seek out roles that would allow you to honor your personal mission statement every day.

Now Tie It All Together

Cross reference these important pieces of what makes you who you are, up against the careers you are considering. 

Rank out to what degree each career path scores out under each set of criteria.

This is important, because it moves you out of “shiny object syndrome” (that career sounds good) and into black and white – this career scored out the highest and makes the most sense for me.

This way you can get behind your choice and feel confident and empowered moving into your new path.

Start Now

I encourage you to start the path of introspection and exploration now.  

You owe it to yourself to gain clarity on a career path that will allow you to be the best possible version of yourself.

You owe it to the world to embrace your gifts. You have something unique and powerful and the world is waiting for you.

We WILL come out of this pandemic. Maybe not anytime soon. But once we do, know that you don’t have to step right back into your old career…. your old life.

You have the opportunity to take this challenging time and reinvent your path.