By Emma Matthew/Digital Content Production on Unsplash

Sadness settled in a few weeks ago during a walk around my normally populated neighborhood in Washington, D.C. 

I saw sign after sign on business windows posted by owners who stated they’d be closed indefinitely. Some of them asked for prayers in hopes of returning after being in business for decades.

All I could think about was the tons of people who’ve found themselves out of work unexpectedly.

The downturn looks likely to be deemed as the first recession since 2007-2009 by U.S. business-cycle arbiter National Bureau of Economic Research. The second half of the year will see a resumption of growth though economists say the deck is stacked against a snap-back, according to the median forecasts in Bloomberg’s monthly survey of 69 economists.

Being let go, or sensing an impending layoff, can evoke a range of emotions. As you’re processing your circumstance and evaluating your financial situation, consider being open to possibility.  

This can be an opportunity to shift careers. This is a chance to repurpose your skills and pursue a new job or industry that could be more fulfilling. Maybe you’d been secretly wanting to quit but fearful of making a change. 

It’s often these unexpected situations that propel us. It can become instinctual to remain comfortable otherwise.

As you work through any fear, anxiety or sadness, challenge yourself to see beyond your immediate situation.  

By expanding your mind and your job search beyond what you’ve been doing for years, you avail yourself to a new beginning. Take a quick step back before rushing toward a familiar industry. 

This is the ideal time for self-reflection. Use these six steps to determine whether you should remain in your field or explore new options.  

1) Visualize your ideal life. 

Before beginning your job search, visualize what you want for the next phase of your career. 

When we look for a job, we tend to go for what we know. We’re naturally drawn to what sounds familiar and what we’re “qualified for” based on outlined responsibilities.

Consider pausing for a self-check to see what you truly desire.

It’s not unusual to complete high school, college or an advanced degree and get stuck in an industry. It’s 10 years later (or more) and you’re questioning how you’ve been in your field so long. 

This is common because we often take the next logical step toward advancing our careers. 

We sometimes climb our corporate ladders because it’s what we’re “supposed to do.” Is it time to take a leap and pursue something different?

Allow yourself to dream. I know this can be hard with all that’s going on. It can be easier focusing on a paycheck, which you may really need right now.

You may be thinking how you don’t have time for visualization.

The thing is if you take time to consider how your life could be with a meaningful career then you can have one, even if you need a job quickly. 

Also, by expanding your job prospects, you can expand your job search to allow for more interview opportunities.

It’s about being open to something new and being open to possibility.

The career you envision should allow you to enjoy going to work and living the life you long for outside your company.

2) Assess your previous work situations.

Ask yourself a few key questions to see if you enjoyed what you were doing. Sometimes we don’t realize we’ve been on autopilot.

We’ve continued down our paths because they’ve made sense, but they weren’t necessarily a true reflection of our inner desires.

A few key questions:

  • Did you enjoy performing your work tasks? When I ask clients this, they tend to tell me about what they liked about their jobs – the people, the commute time, the pay, etc. That’s not what we’re looking for here. Did you like your day-in, day-out responsibilities?
  • Why did you initially go into your current field? Is that reason still holding true for you today? For example, if you took a job to benefit from loan forgiveness, and not because you loved the actual job, you may need to reevaluate. Or, if you once loved what you were doing but that passion has waned, it may be time to switch fields.

3) Evaluate your skills and repurpose your value.

I’ve worked in several industries. I honed my writing skills to communicate many topics. Brainstorm on what skills you have and how you can use them in other industries. 

Since it can be challenging recognizing your skills on your own. Reach out to those who know you and understand your career path thus far. See what they say are your repurposeful skills.

These may be the same people who’ve been telling you for awhile what you’re good at and how you should try something different.

4) Get clear on your life priorities.

Having clarity on what’s important to you before beginning your job search can help avoid a regrettable situation later.

What are your top three to five priorities? Write them down on a piece of paper.

It’s easy, once you have a job offer, to convince yourself it won’t be so bad working on a day off, or to tell your extroverted-self working at home alone won’t be that bad.

It’s instinctual to settle for just anything in these times.

5) Shift your mindset.

Take time to take a step back despite your feelings.

I believe we can attract, and accept, situations that may not ultimately be best for us when we’re operating from a place of fear.  

Consider shifting your mind to what you desire and deserve, and away from, “I must accept the first available job.”

A desperate mindset can cause you to make a desperate decision. You may be in a position where you’ve got to take on something short-term, but we can still plan for the long-run.

There’s a lot to process. It can be scary moving outside your comfort zone, but a shift in mindset and closer examination can make the process easier.

6) Trust your instincts.

Only you know whether you’re ready to work through possible discomfort by trying something new. 

It can be scary changing course and only you know if you’re up for it. Sit still for a moment. Move past your feelings and tune into what you know you should do next.

It’s normal for fear to arise. Attempt to work through emotions that arise to tap into what you truly desire.