According to the International Labor Union, over 114 million people lost their jobs in 2020 due to Covid-19 and I too found myself on the abrupt end of a weekly scheduled Zoom meeting where over half of my management consulting team was let-go due to the pandemic impact.

The news of being jobless without a severance package quickly sunk in and I immediately put on my “former athlete hat” to jump start my career search – you know the discipline of setting a routine, goals, and deadlines.  As an avid reader and listener of thought-leaders and coaches, the advice of “network with new people, update your resume, contact everyone in your database” was…….well, uninspiring.  Dealing with job loss, and day to day pandemic life, I was truly happy to just get 500 steps in my iPhone Health App.  

The hours and days started to pass, I found myself in a quiet space.  

In that quiet space, I abandoned all of my human training for what I will call my animal intuition – I made the decision to listen to my body and my senses and not get drowned in the busyness and humanness of language, calendars, and expectations.  

Here was my completely unconventional approach for seeking and securing my future career:

Lay Like A Lion 

Or like your dog who sleeps next to you during your endless Zoom calls.  Lions sleep and rest about 16-20 hours per day and this allows them to conserve energy for when it is truly needed for travelling or hunting.  When my body signaled to me I was tired, I rested – and more importantly, I did not feel guilty about resting.  Those hours spent not thinking about resumes or networking allowed me the energy to be “All-In” when I was ready to tackle a task.  Lions, like many other animals, listen to their bodies, and of course don’t live in their heads repeating “I should be doing this…..”  over and over again.  

Follow Your Own Directions

Living in Miami, I get to observe one of my favorite animals in the wild on a daily basis – the sea turtle.  On a volunteer night in the fall, I watched baby sea turtles hatch on the South Florida beach and I learned a unique fact that they migrate all the way across to the African Coastline and return back to lay their eggs – within a 100 yards of where they hatched!  Sea Turtles have an internal compass that keeps them on the right path to where they want to be in the future.  This methodology worked for me, a reverse-engineering of my career where I looked at who Anne O’Neil was in 2023 and asked myself these questions:  “What industry do I want to work in, in 2023?  What new skill-sets would I like to learn by 2023?  Who are the kind of people I want to meet and work alongside in 2023?”  Visualizing myself 18-24 months from now, helped me narrow my job-search focus, directed my daily actions, and painted the picture of a future career I was excited about.  

Listen With Your Feet

Research says that humans hear over 20,000-30,000 words in a given 24 hour period, and that doesn’t include the over 60,000 internal thoughts we sift through each day!  Living each day in my animal instincts meant coming up with a strategy for all the negative thoughts and unsolicited advice that came my way.  I channeled my inner elephant – no, not because they have the largest ears in the entire animal kingdom – but because their best “listening” comes from their highly sensitive flat feet.  Elephants are able to listen to their environment for 10-20 miles through the vibrations in the ground.  As I was researching industries and starting to interview, I listened instinctively to the overall “vibe” – or vibrations in this case – if the connection and role felt right for me.  Focusing on my intuition and not just what was on paper, helped guide me to find the right people, industry, and company for my career. 

Being thrust from something that is predictable and safe gave me the opportunity to turn inward and trust my instincts while plotting my future course.  Through my time spent job searching and the days that followed, I reminded myself of the quote from the Wizard of Oz, where Oz tells Dorothy, “You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”